Ipswich: Unison “positive” over changes to staff contracts at The Ipswich Regent

The Regent Theatre, Ipswich

The Regent Theatre, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

The Ipswich branch of Unison has said major changes to staff contracts at The Regent should be broadly “positive”.

Members of staff at the theatre are set to see their contracts move from a casual basis to a new deal giving them permanent hours.

Suzanne Williams, secretary for the Ipswich branch of Unison, said she only expected a small number of staff to have to re-apply for their jobs.

“We do not believe there’s a need for any job losses here from looking at the report which went to the Human Resources Committee,” she said.

“With the casual contract at the moment there’s no certainty, no security with that. It may not be the case that people will need to re-apply, but it may be the case that some people may need to go through that.

“If it’s not necessary for people to go through the interview process then that’s great. For a lot of people it could be a very scary experience.”

The new contract should ensure workers get access to benefits such as pension schemes, holidays and sick pay.

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She said the union was working with the employer, Ipswich Borough Council, over the changes.

A pool of casual staff will still be needed to meet the theatre’s demands, Ms Williams said.

She hopes many workers will be able to be selected to continue their role within the theatre.

The council has maintained that the changes are not “cost-cutting measures” and would give workers “guaranteed hours”.

A borough spokesman said: “We are changing the way we employ some of them because they work there regularly and as such are entitled to full employment rights.

“Previously, they have been on casual contracts without such rights.

“We are asking people who have been on casual contracts previously to let us know which roles and how many hours they want to be contracted for so we can ensure we have a fair and transparent process and can ensure that we have the right skills in the right places.”

“The council is working closely with those affected and with Unison to minimise the impact of the process of delivering this change which is ultimately beneficial to the workforce,” he added.