Judge Rules That Sonar Festival Set Up Can Continue Despite Riggers' Strike

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View of the crowd during Sonar Festival on June 15, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.  

The 26th edition of the electronic music and technology event is slated to begin on Thursday.

A tense situation unfolding behind the scenes at Barcelona’s Sonar Festival reached a conclusion Tuesday morning (July 16) when a court judge ruled that preparations for the renowned music and technology event could continue, despite a strike by workers at the venue where the festival is to be held for three days starting on Thursday (July 18).    

Riggers at the Fira, the trade fair organization overseen by city and state government entities, went on strike last week, and have been demonstrating outside the venue.

Faced with possible cancellation, Sonar turned to the Fira to bring in outside workers to set up for the festival, which last year, its 25th, hosted a crowd of 126,000.

“Any other option that would mean a change in the set-up schedule of the festival would have had grave consequences for the more than 2000 workers and contributors involved in the project, the more than 120,000 national and international attendees, the organizations and services involved and also the city of Barcelona itself,” executives at Sonar parent company Advanced Music told Billboard in a statement. 

Representatives for the freelance workers of the company that contracts the stage rigging team for the Fira had filed a motion in Barcelona court to stop the strike breakers, who have been brought in from other Spanish cities and Portugal, from setting up the stages, claiming that it violated their right to strike for better working conditions. On Tuesday, their case was dismissed by the judge, who ruled that the riggers had a right to strike, but that should not impact the jobs of others involved in the production of Sonar who would be affected if preparations for the festival were forced to come to a halt.

The strike was one of several obstacles the Sonar organizers have had to overcome this year. The first was the timing of the festival. Sonar is usually held in June, but was pushed ahead this year by the Fira, which booked a textile machinery fair for the habitual days of the music festival.

Last week, Sonar headliner A$AP Rocky’s appearance was canceled after he was arrested and jailed in Sweden. The festival has announced that rapper Stormzy will perform in his place.

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