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Thank you for the Daily Mail article. It spells out the bad timing of this decision, which is what came to my mind when reading Lebrecht's post:

It is the latest blow to musicians, who were unable to work for the majority of the pandemic and were forced to rely on grants and loans.

Musicians said they had hoped the Spring 2022 season would see them return to work and be an opportunity to repay debts racked up during the pandemic.


The real test of a policy is how it works out in practice. Perhaps the negative publicity will make the arts bureaucracy think about how they can improve implementation of this policy.

It also looks like the Arts Council and ETO are playing a bit of a pass the hot potato game. They're obviously not on the same page about it, which is a problem since it can potentially impact on so many musicians.
 

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Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
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The Mail reports that the Arts Council, "didn't tell the ETO to send the letter," but the ETO letter doesn't claim that it did, only that it was acting "in line with firm guidance" from the Council.

If those who were not reengaged can establish that in law, they were unfairly dismissed, then they may get some satisfaction.

However, the letter is rather woolly with regard to the "sackings", saying, "It does seem likely that ETO will not be in a position to offer you a freelance engagement."

There's a way out through compromise here.
 

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Bad luck to the employees for being caught up in this mess. Its a case of really bad timing and probably of poor communication between the powers that be. The right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

I'm surprised that all those orchestras signed up to the I'M IN program last year, when the pandemic was already underway. Government organisations don't do things like this on a whim. They would have spent years planning this policy. It seems that not even a global pandemic was going to prevent it from being rolled out.
 

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Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
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I think, from what we've been able to glean, that the musicians concerned have been treated unfairly, but they would have difficulty in proving that their treatment was unlawful.

The ETO is a business registered as a charity, not a government organisation. But it is part funded by the Arts Council which acts to invest government (taxpayers') money in the Arts. That means the ETO would be expected to operate with policies consistent with other public bodies' (though of course it would still have to write its own).
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 · (Edited)
The UK Music Union is among other things seeking legal advice and it's good to know that the sacked musicians will be getting some support.

It appears that as much as half the orchestral players have had their services terminated.

I wonder if there is a surfeit of orchestral players in the market now, given many orchestras must have let a lot of players go due to the lack of demand because of the pandemic.

This may have the unexpected consequence of more and better choices for hirers of orchestral players.

Perhaps good news for classical music fans and orchestras, but a bit of a bummer for those trying to earn a living in an already difficult industry.
 

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Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
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ETO statement on their own website.

English Touring Opera has written today to a number of audience members and musicians who have questions about a report in the Sunday Times related to the recruitment of musicians. The text of our letter is below. [continues]
https://englishtouringopera.org.uk/...a-arrangements-for-engaging-freelance-players

I'd like to have seen The Times original article, but as it's behind a paywall, I only saw others' take on the story. I wonder if this addresses in any way, the concerns raised by The Times, or, more importantly, by the freelancers themselves.

It was published 3 days ago. I note that Slipped Disc has not yet caught up.
 

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The term 'sacked' is s generic term used when an organisation terminates the services or service of an individual, and that's what is happening here. Whether the individual is engaged for service or services is not going to make any difference to the person losing their livelihood. 20 years is most certainly not irrelevant because it relates to someone's livelihood, how they've been earning a living, in the conventional sense, for a long time. The human impact is enormous.

The statement of the boss makes it very clear to the recipient and anyone reading it, what the reason and consequence of this management decision is.
You are quoting articles from The Times and the daily Mail which have a history of trying to stir right wing, conservative opinons. They have an axe to grind.

The musicians were not sacked. They are freelancers hired on a self-emplyed basis. Sacked means they were removed from a job that they already had - which is not true.

They are not being re-engaged for the 2022 season, because ETO has had a series of auditions and has chosen not to renew the contracts of all of the musicians that is has previously used - however they say they might be able to use the muscians at a later date.

Clearly the ETO has taken an view towards its legal obligations toward Equality& Diversity and has decided to audition a pool of musicians for its 2022 season rather than simply renew contracts, and have hired musicians from their auditioning process.

Organisations in the UK are required to promote Equality & Diversity rather than just be it. It is written into the statute of the UK's Equality Act. Clearly the ETO has taken a view that simply renewing the temporary contracts of its existing pool of musicians was not going to meet its legal duty and went through a process of auditioning musicians to expand and renew its pool of musicians.

There is a clear difference in meaning between sacking someone and not renewing someone's temporary contract when it comes to an end.

This is right wing "culture wars" propaganda, twisting the meaning of words to suit the agenda of right wing editors and politicians.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
You are quoting articles from The Times and the daily Mail which have a history of trying to stir right wing, conservative opinons. They have an axe to grind.

The musicians were not sacked. They are freelancers hired on a self-emplyed basis. Sacked means they were removed from a job that they already had - which is not true.

They are not being re-engaged for the 2022 season, because ETO has had a series of auditions and has chosen not to renew the contracts of all of the musicians that is has previously used - however they say they might be able to use the muscians at a later date.

Clearly the ETO has taken an view towards its legal obligations toward Equality& Diversity and has decided to audition a pool of musicians for its 2022 season rather than simply renew contracts, and have hired musicians from their auditioning process.

Organisations in the UK are required to promote Equality & Diversity rather than just be it. It is written into the statute of the UK's Equality Act. Clearly the ETO has taken a view that simply renewing the temporary contracts of its existing pool of musicians was not going to meet its legal duty and went through a process of auditioning musicians to expand and renew its pool of musicians.

There is a clear difference in meaning between sacking someone and not renewing someone's temporary contract when it comes to an end.

This is right wing "culture wars" propaganda, twisting the meaning of words to suit the agenda of right wing editors and politicians.
I quote nothing. I referred to the ETO director's letter to his musicians which states that he is terminating their service because they do not comply with his racial and otherwise criteria. A sacking in common parlance.

Now go away before I get angry with you.
 

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Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
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Now go away before I get angry with you.
Too late already, I think. Why would you get angry? And why should anyone have to leave, just because you might? You have your view on what has happened, others here have a different view, though they don't post angry if challenged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
Too late already, I think. Why would you get angry? And why should anyone have to leave, just because you might? You have your view on what has happened, others here have a different view, though they don't post angry if challenged.
Who threw you a bun?
 
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The ultimate irony here is that the musicians who have just been hired can very well end up in the same position as those who have been discarded. Hypothetically, in the not so distant future, a government can be elected which doesn't support this diversity policy, and in some way render it obsolete. Short of changing laws, it can be abandoned in practice.

Diversity isn't even the core issue here. The real problem is, as I argued earlier, economic. It is how over decades, worker's rights have been eroded, and how so many now are forced into temporary employment. Economists call this class the precariat, and its a category that cuts across a person's education, country of origin and industry they work in.

Its no wonder so many have lost faith in those who govern them. They are not so much out of touch as playing dice with the lives of future generations. Many of the rights which where fought for by unions in the past, for example, are now in the process of being dismantled.
 

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On the other hand, in the UK at least, successive governments have tinkered both positively and negatively with employment rights. It's by no means the case that rights have merely been eroded. For example:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/about/legislation-updates#gref

Whilst I get the 'irony' bit, it seems to me that the ETO is simply doing this year what it has done in previous years, and which no-one paid any attention to: freelancers were already being "sacked" from year to year, because that's the nature of its employment practice.
 

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You cannot terminate a contract that has come to its natural end.

They are not terminating anyone - they are not giving some musicians new contracts for the next touring season. There is a difference. It is not uncommon for touring companies or shows to recast their musicians every so often to suit the needs of the production or simply because other members of the cast are not renewing their contracts because they are retiring or have new gigs.

Lebrecht uses the word "dismissal" not the ETO. It misrepresents what the ETO is doing. Language is being twisted to suit a political agenda. No-one was sacked or terminated, their contracts were not renewed


2+2 does not equal 5. It doesn't matter how many fingers the party is holding up.

When is the two minute hate on? I wouldn't like to miss it.
 

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On the other hand, in the UK at least, successive governments have tinkered both positively and negatively with employment rights. It's by no means the case that rights have merely been eroded. For example:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/about/legislation-updates#gref

Whilst I get the 'irony' bit, it seems to me that the ETO is simply doing this year what it has done in previous years, and which no-one paid any attention to: freelancers were already being "sacked" from year to year, because that's the nature of its employment practice.
The writing was obviously on the wall, and companies do need some flexibility in hiring and firing. However, I think that this case boils down to double standards. In the application of this diversity policy, permanent employees are protected from its immediate impact, while temporary employees are not.

I think that anyone who has been at least somewhat impacted by the pandemic will find it hard to apply dry legalistic reasoning to this case. Policy doesn't just operate in theory, it effects people's lives in reality.
 

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This sort of issue is perfect fodder for one of our modern culture wars. Truth and detail are likely, therefore, to be early victims of any reporting on it. However it is, there are some things I am not sure about in this particular issue:

- Not all their contracted musicians were told they would not be renewed - which is legally different to being sacked but might still leave many with few options for alternative gainful employment (at least without being willing to move home and perhaps country of residence) - and I am unclear how the company decided who would get renewed and who would not be.

- I wonder, perhaps a lack of merit was behind their decisions but they could not claim this without a history of having discussed poor performance with those deemed to be unfit for future renewal. So they might have to keep quiet about the real reasons for their actions.

Those who have lost their jobs - jobs they might have expected to hold for life - may find it hard to find alternative employment. This might be especially the case for those who are older. There may even be a case for suggesting that the dismissals were motivated by ageism.

Is it the case the the ETO acknowledges that their earlier recruitment had in some way excluded candidates from some backgrounds (regardless of merit)? It is likely that this was the case but admitting it might be difficult and would beg the questions of whether and how they will ensure that future recruitments are fair. These are important questions, however. Or are they just saying they are only going to recruit people who come from a background that was unrepresented in their previous staffing?

Is the diversity in question solely concerned with race, colour and religion? Or does it also have gender dimensions? And what is their policy concerning ageism (mentioned above)?
 
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