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Freelance Pay Increases Achieved by the MU Orchestras Department

The MU Orchestras Department are pleased to report having gained considerable ground on a number of historic “parity claims” since the outbreak of the pandemic, with a number of freelance payments increases ranging between 2% and 30%.

Published: 02 July 2021 | 12:02 PM Updated: 12 July 2021 | 6:35 PM
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We have been reminding managements that this is a time like never before to be telling your Extras and Deputies how important they are. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The MU Orchestras Department has been working hard on freelance fees as a priority and has achieved the following settlements.

There are a number of historic “parity claims” for Extras and Deputies that the department gained considerable ground on since the outbreak of the pandemic, largely through saying to the managements that this is a time like never before to be telling your Extras and Deputies how important they are.

The goal of achieving parity of fees between the hourly / daily / session rate of the Extras and Deputies and the equivalent rate for the employed member has been an MU Orchestras Department campaign for some years now.

Increase now in place

The following increases are now in place for our Extras and Deputies agreements with the following orchestras:

  • Bournemouth Symphony (BSO) 3.5% in 2021 on top of a 2% increase in September 2020.
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra: in order to achieve full parity of fees, CBSO agreed to implement increases of between 4.1% and 7.6% in 2020; and between 4.3% and 22% in 2021.
  • English National Opera: between 11% and 30% to achieve full parity of fees was achieved with acceptance of the same media terms as the orchestra members.
  • Royal Northern Sinfonia: following significant pressure from the Union in 2020 a 5.4% increase was implemented to bring full parity of fees.
  • Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) 6%
  • Scottish Opera 2%

At the BBC a three-year deal was achieved as follows:

  • 1 April 2021 3%
  • 1 April 2022 2% + staff increase (if any) awarded after April 2021
  • 1 April 2023 2% + staff increase (if any) awarded after April 2022

Of our agreements with Freelance Orchestras the following increases have been negotiated in 2021:

  • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: 2.25%
  • Making Music: 2%.
  • Orchestra of the Swan: 2%

Manchester Camerata’s offer was to increase fees by 4.3% overall uplift. When reminded by the MU of the mandate to negotiate parity of pay between core players and Es and Ds rates across all orchestras, there was renewed discussion. The subsequent offer was 1% to the core members of the orchestra and between 3.7 and 6.7% to the Es and Ds.

Find out more about what the MU does for orchestral musicians.

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