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Stage technicians to picket downtown theatre

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Photo: Google Street View.

Stage technicians at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts hit the picket line Monday, giving theatre-goers an extra performance on Labour Day. The union representing the workers says picketing coincides with the theatre’s first performance since the lockout began on Aug. 13.

There are no details of what show is playing Monday. A call to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 58 wasn’t returned and the St. Lawrence Centre’s website doesn’t list a performance Monday.

IATSE claims it has offered concessions that have reduced labour costs by 10 per cent. It also claims workers at the St. Lawrence Centre earn about $10 less an hour than colleagues in commercial theatres.

Local 58 president Jim Brett claims it’s not labour costs that are the problem — empty seats are.

“If the Centre mounted mainstage productions that people actually wanted to see, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said in a statement. “Attendance has been pretty dismal and isn’t getting any better because mainstage productions are not capturing public attention.”

The union said it won’t impede patrons from entering the theatre.

Local 58 represents hundreds of stage technicians across the city, including workers at the Air Canada Centre and Roy Thomson Hall.