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The Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Committee (RC) advocates for the MU’s members in two countries, each with distinct diaspora, languages, communities and heritages, so it feels like we cover more than a region.

Our members channel the concerns and experiences of musicians in these two countries to the MU National Departments and Executive Committee. At least, that’s how I understand it. 

It only took me 40 odd years as an MU member to decide to put myself forward to be on my RC, and I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s important to support and continue the work of trade unions into the future, especially in the current situation for workers.

RC meetings aren’t too onerous in that there are four a year, so I have become involved in a couple of other strands of the Union action since stepping up my involvement. 

What happens at a Regional Committee

What’s a meeting like? Well, it’s worth knowing that there is a level of formality to the way things go - our meetings build on a tradition that was established a long time ago, and which calls for respectful, comradely debate.

That said, these meetings are not dry at all, they are gatherings where points get made, and emphatically. Our January RC was a virtual one, and it was the first for some newly elected members. There was a process to be worked through as we appointed our Chair and Vice Chair. 

In terms of my own engagement at the meeting, I have been involved in getting a couple of items onto the agenda:

  • a motion calling for the Union to be more visible and audible in its declared support for a ceasefire in the continuing Israel/Palestine conflict
  • a discussion about how funding bodies (like Creative Scotland) step up the way they support individual freelancers who apply for funding, in line with the drive to see Fair Work across the Arts.

I was keen to see how these issues got discussed, and was really happy that there was plenty to say on each and positive forward movement on both issues. 

The Union needs its members to be involved

The meeting also saw reports on the work of the Benevolent Fund sub committee and supported three strong motions that will go to the STUC conference:

  1. A call for a music export office for Scotland
  2. Protection of the arts sector by the Scottish Government
  3. A call to enshrine the value of music education (a subject close to my heart).

I’m really glad I stood, and it’s really important that others do too - it’s how we keep our Union, and it’s how we ensure it reflects the world we’re in as musicians and humans. 

We’ll be meeting in Belfast in June and Glasgow in September, and I’d encourage all musicians to look out for the dates and come along to the gatherings we run in advance of the RC meeting. The Union needs its members to be involved and these are a perfect way to meet the people who are currently in the frame for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Hope to see you there!

Photo ofGiles Perring
Thanks to

Giles Perring

Giles has been on the MU’s Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Committee since being elected at the end of 2022. He plays guitar, piano and a lot of self-made percussion. As well as performing and composing, much of his work has been in education and arts facilitating. He also runs a recording studio in Jura, Scotland.

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