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UNION LAUNCHES BID TO PROTECT MUSICIANS 

The Musicians' Union in the U.K. is calling on the British Government to better protect musicians after a study suggested that almost half have experienced sexual harassment at work, with 85% of victims not feeling able to report incidents. Findings were based on responses from 725 members.

In the study, conducted by the MU, workplace culture was cited as the greatest barrier to reporting harassment (55%), followed by fear of losing work (41%), expectations that the issue would not be handled appropriately (32%) and fear of not being believed or taken seriously (27%). 

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary at the Musicians’ Union, said: “We are aware of far too many cases of talented musicians, particularly young or emerging artists, leaving the industry altogether due to sexism, sexual harassment or abuse. Many musicians who have gone public with their story are now being taken to court for defamation—evidence of the situation we’re dealing with.

“Survivors are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their career or personal life are devastating. In most cases we’re aware of, the survivor ends up leaving the workplace or the industry and there are very few consequences for the perpetrator."

Two-thirds of the musicians who responded said they feel more at risk to sexual harassment because they work on a freelance basis, and just one in five (19%) said the contracts they work under include policies or procedures to deal with incidents of sexual harassment.

With 90% of its 31k members working in a freelance capacity, the MU is calling on the U.K. Government to extend protections relating to discrimination and harassment in the Equality Act 2010 to freelancers, so that they are entitled to the same protections as the majority of individuals in the workplace who are already protected. The union is encouraging the public to back the request by signing this petition.

Pohl continued: “The data released today exposes the true extent of the problem – and, ultimately, we are eager to work with government to better protect freelancers. As a starting point for our campaign, we set up a SafeSpace email account back in 2018: somewhere to confidentially and anonymously report sexual harassment, abuse, bullying and discrimination in the music industry. We set out to discover the problems that exist and seek long-term solutions, such as culture change within the music industry and legislative reform.  Since then, we have received well over 100 reports but very few have led to any form of justice.  The law frustrates survivors every step of the way and in many cases it is used to silence them.”

Further requests to government include introducing a mandatory duty on workplaces to take reasonable steps to protect people from harassment and victimisation, as well as a statutory Code of Practice to specify the steps employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and which can be considered in evidence when determining whether the mandatory duty has been breached.

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