The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is taking the Sydney Theatre Company to the Fair Work Commission today claiming that its management is putting STC commercial interests ahead of staff safety after two alleged assaults on ushers.
On two separate occasions this summer, ushers at STC have been allegedly assaulted by patrons.
In one case an usher was “forcibly pushed” by an audience member. In the second, a well-known, season ticket holder had “forcefully slapped the usher on the back several times and then subjected the usher to an offensive gesture”, the MEAA claims.
The union said the staff members had done nothing to provoke the incidents.
Management had accepted an apology from one patron for the bahaviour but the person has continued to visit STC. The MEAA had demanded the patron be barred from the venue indefinitely.
MEAA director of Entertainment, Crew and Sport, Mal Tulloch, said these two incidents had left STC staff feeling “violated, humiliated and isolated”.
Union members at STC are said to be “incensed” that the incidents had not been taken seriously and was more concerned about its audience members, than its staff.
“There has been inadequate consultation from management to determine a safeguard for our members and our efforts to see better procedures for dealing with violent patrons have been ignored by the STC,” Tulloch said.
“We are appalled and alarmed that STC is willing to put a paying patron’s bad behavior above the safety of its staff.”
Update: The Fairwork Commission today ordered the STC to review its policies and procedures for dealing with violent patrons and asked STC management and the MEAA to return to the Commission in two weeks.Main image: A scene from The Golden Age at the STC’s Wharf Theatre running until February 20.