Opera Australia is axing jobs, blaming the “devastating” impact of COVID-19.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said on Thursday one-quarter of permanent employees will be made redundant, however the company says that figure only relates to administration staff.
Further meetings are taking place on Friday between employees, via the union, and the company.
“These workplace changes are necessary as a response to the continuing coronavirus crisis,” Opera Australia chief executive Rory Jeffes said in a statement.
“None of these steps have been entered into lightly or without the utmost consideration for our employees, our company and for opera itself.”
The union’s Paul Davies said it was understood cuts would be made to every department of the company including musicians, chorus performers and technical and staging crew.
He said the workers set to lose their jobs had been targeted by management with no chance of redeployment or voluntary redundancy.
“This is a terrible decision by Opera Australia’s management and its board,” Mr Davies said.
“These workers have been loyal employees of OA for many years and have already taken a temporary pay cut to help the company through the crisis caused by COVID-19.
“Now, at the worst possible time, their loyalty has been repaid with a brutal round of forced redundancies and they find themselves unemployed in the middle of the worst recession since the Second World War.”
Mr Jeffes responded that many of the union’s public comments about the situation were “inaccurate”.
“We have included the MEAA in this journey with our employees, which has only just commenced, as we genuinely consult with them about what these changes may mean,” he said.
“They are driven by the need to implement mitigation measures to address the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure OA remains a viable organisation.”
The union is calling on Arts Minister Paul Fletcher to provide extra support to Opera Australia to save the jobs and its reputation in the arts community.