Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Coronation Street star Kerri's delight at tribunal win against Northern Ireland Opera for holiday pay

 

By John Toner

CORONATION Street star Kerri Quinn has told of her relief at securing a landmark ruling over holiday pay rights for actors in Northern Ireland.

Belfast actress Ms Quinn and co-star Gerard McCabe won their case against NI Opera Company over their entitlement to paid holidays during a production of the Threepenny Opera at the Lyric Theatre early last year.

Ms Quinn, who has been busy filming new episodes of Corrie playing Vicky Jefferies — mum of Weatherfield teen gangster Tyler Jefferies (Will Barnett) — said the case was not about the money but the principle.

A tribunal panel in Belfast ruled unanimously that Quinn and production ensemble actor McCabe, also from Belfast, were entitled to two weeks of holiday pay and that actors were entitled to the same employment rights as itinerant crop pickers and temporary call centre workers.

Reacting to the ruling Ms Quinn told Sunday Life: “I was extremely relieved about the decision, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the principle of what we were entitled to.

“There was a lot riding on it because every other company in Northern Ireland could have decided they wouldn’t be paying it either if it had gone against us. To say it was a relief would be an understatement.

“A lot of people were afraid of not working again but I thought it was important to stick to our guns and fight. A group of us were going to query it at first and a few people had put their names forward but after a couple of months it was just me and Gerard.

“We thought it would be settled before the tribunal because it seemed to be so heavily in our favour so we were surprised when it went ahead. The more I thought about it the more I felt we had to do it because of the potential impact on the industry and actors in Northern Ireland.

“The tribunal was terrifying but I walked out of the room feeling liberated, I didn’t care about the money, it was about our rights and what we deserve. It’s the principle, we are self-employed workers and we are entitled to holiday pay and companies will have to pay it.

“If it hadn’t gone our way it would have been all for nothing and could have been detrimental to other actors receiving holiday pay. We were confident but there’s always that little worry about it going the other way.

“Sometimes you have to take a stand and do the right thing.”

Ms Quinn played a drug-addled madam in the critically acclaimed musical tale of murder and mystery which features popular songs including The Ballad of Mack the Knife.

Jayne Wisener co-starred in the show as Polly Peachum who secretly marries celebrity gangster Mack the Knife against her conman father’s wishes.

She said the news of their victory in the tribunal came just before Christmas and despite the decision she still maintains a good relationship with artistic director Walter Sutcliffe.

She continued: “It was Christmas Eve we got the news to say we had won, it was a lovely Christmas present.

“It wasn’t personal against NI Opera, we just knew we were entitled to it. I have a great relationship with Walter.

“As it was just before Christmas, of course we raised a glass.”

Kerri says she is loving her time on the world’s longest-running soap and has recently been written into another storyline.

She said: “It’s great I have been extended for another 10 to 12 months. I am just finishing up a storyline in the next few weeks.

“It’s an amazing place to work, an absolute dream. Every single person has bent over backwards to make sure I’ve had a good experience. I’m having a ball!”

Belfast Telegraph

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