Congress believes that this is a moment of change. Since November 2017, a raft of high-profile allegations has shone a spotlight on harassment, not only in the creative industries but elsewhere including male dominated sectors. Behaviour that was never acceptable and should never have been tolerated.
Congress notes cases reported to the MU highlight a range of issues including adverts calling for ‘attractive’ female violinists, inappropriate dress policies, unsuitable changing or bathroom facilities for female performers, unacceptable ‘laddish banter’, as well as instances of sustained harassment in a place of employment. The MU has also received several reports of sexual assault. In several cases threats to job security have been made when female musicians have tried to challenge the behaviour.
Congress welcomes the General Council’s statement on sexual harassment, which demonstrates the movement’s clear leadership on this issue. As unions we have always championed the rights of our members. We are the first line of defence against bad behaviour and the go-to-source of advice whenever our members face problems of any kind. We collaborate with good employers on initiatives to tackle sexual harassment, such as the principles commissioned by the British Film Institute in partnership with industry bodies and unions.
The MU is leading the music industry’s response to issues of sexual harassment by investigating individual cases, surveying musicians to find out the extent of the problem and challenging all music professionals to promote appropriate behaviour and put in place clear policies to protect musicians from harassment. The Musicians’ Union (MU) has created a ‘safe space’ email address where musicians can report abuse and ask for assistance whilst remaining anonymous.
These problems can exist anywhere and that is why legislative changes are needed to protect and empower workers regardless of their employment status or sector.
Congress therefore agrees to redouble its efforts to bring change to the law including through:
- calling for the reinstatement of the statutory equality questionnaire which allowed claimants to ask for information pertinent to a case of harassment or discrimination
- ensuring recognition of third party harassment claims
- investigating the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements by employers
- campaigning for the recognition of self-employed workers in the Equality Act 2010
- seeking an extension to the current time limit for lodging a claim of discrimination and/or harassment from three months to at least six months
- highlighting the advice and assistance provided by the MU to all musicians suffering harassment or abuse.
Seconder: Musicians’ Union