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It's Heart Unions Week: Here's What We're Thankful For

It’s Heart Unions Week! A celebration of trade unions and the work they do every day giving people a voice at work and in the halls of power.

Photograph of people rehearsing in a band environment.
MU membership is at an all time high at over 32,000 – bucking the trade union trend. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Thanks to you, MU members across the UK, we’ve been able to change the conversation on working in the EU post-Brexit, force an airline to change their policies to make it easier to travel with instruments, and take on engagers exploiting musicians every single day.

The MU at work

MU membership is at an all time high at over 32,000 – bucking the trade union trend.

We collected over £134,000 in unpaid fees for members in 2019, and paid out over £1.2 million to musicians in royalties.

We’ve changed the conversation on working in the EU post-Brexit. Following MU campaigns and lobbying work since the referendum result in 2016, the Government has started to listen.

Business rates for grassroots venues have been slashed after intensive lobbying by the Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust, UK Music and others.

Flybe amended their cabin baggage policy to allow for small instruments, after the MU raised concerns on behalf of members.

Our first ever Members’ Conference brought MU members in to decision-making in a whole new way.

MU Delegate Conference passed motions on improving diversity in orchestras, fair remuneration from streaming, and improving the visibility of disabled members.

We took on the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. MU members took part in Pride marches across the UK. We fought, and are still fighting, busking bans in London.

The MU backed a Green New Deal for the UK at Labour Party Conference, and got TUC Congress to support the inclusion of freelancers in all TUC policy.

We launched our first Disability Rights Toolkit.

The latest exemptions from CITES were announced.

We’ve released a Charter for Visiting Music Teachers to help schools provide the best support.

MU teams across the UK organised countless events on topics as varied as DIY releasing, getting paid, protecting your brand, promoting yourself, and protecting your health and wellbeing.

The MU signed up to the Keychange initiative, affirming our commitment to a 50:50 gender split on all MU Committees, panels and events, and the Women’s Night Safety Charter.

Two young members from the Musicians’ Union were elected to the TUC Young Workers’ Forum for the first time ever. Thanks to those members, and with their input, we developed The Young Freelancer’s Guide to Mental Health and the Music Industry.

MU members spoke at a huge number of events, from our Women in Music Conference in Manchester to TUC and STUC Conferences, raising issues including racist visa policies for artists, representation in the curriculum, mental health, pregnancy and parenting, and sexual harassment at work.

And following on from musicians’ reports to the Safe Space scheme, we launched a dedicated campaign to change the laws around sexual harassment to protect freelancers too.

Ending sexual harassment at work

In fact, that’s the theme of this year’s Heart Unions week.

We’re proud to be part of a coalition of trade unions and women’s rights charities led by the TUC making the case calling for a legal duty on employers to take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment happening at all.

Sign the #ThisIsNotWorking petition.

Protecting Freelancers Too

And we’ve launched our own MU campaign to Protect Freelancers Too. Right now, the laws protecting working people only protect people who are employed and freelancers who can say they have ‘worker’ status. But most freelance musicians don’t qualify for that status, which means that workplace protections do not protect them.

That’s why we’re calling for laws to prevent sexual harassment at work that protect everyone.

Sign the petition to #ProtectFreelancersToo now.

Published: 15/02/2020

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