The Stratford Shakespeare Festival says it has reached a negotiated settlement with the union representing dozens of call centre staff averting a strike that threatened to derail the opening of its season.

The workers had been in a legal strike position since Friday morning.

The festival says major issues were wages and contracting out.

Ann Swerdfager, a Festival spokeswoman, says the deal, which still needs to be ratified, gives the workers a 5.5 per cent wage increase over two years.

It also contains a clause agreeing not to contract out call centre work for the duration of the contract.

The festival’s 2012 season opens officially today with a performance of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”