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MU Contributes to New International Standards on Rights and Mobility for Arts and Entertainment Sector Workers

Our General Secretary and Head of International represented the union and helped form a genuinely inclusive text for industry workers as part of ILOs negotiation meeting.

Published: 20 February 2023 | 4:04 PM
A crowd of people making up the Workers Group who attended the meeting, with Naomi Pohl and Dave Webster center.
Naomi Pohl took part in a panel opening the negotiations on the first day of the week-long event and also chaired the workers' group meetings for one of the days. Image credit: The MU ©

Last week, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) held a tripartite negotiation meeting entitled ‘The Future of Work in the Arts and Entertainment Sector’. The last time this negotiation took place was 10 years ago so it was a rare and important opportunity to improve standards of work for musicians, actors, technicians and other arts and entertainment workers internationally.

There were delegations from across the Globe

As a result of the MU’s long-standing membership of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), General Secretary Naomi Pohl and Head of International Dave Webster, attended as part of the workers delegation.

There were delegations from across the Globe representing musicians via FIM, actors via FIA (the International Federation of Actors) and crew via UNI-MEI (the International Federation representing technicians). As the ILO is a tripartite organisation, representatives from Governments and Employers were part of the negotiation.

Naomi took part in a panel opening the negotiations on the first day of the week-long event and also chaired the workers' group meetings for one of the days.

Over the course of the week, the Workers, Employers and Governments strove to find common ground in respect of workers' rights, collective bargaining, intellectual property rights, Artificial Intelligence, social protections, health and safety, equality, inclusion and mobility.

The MU made strong representations

The final text – adopted on 17 Feb 2023 - sets out improved standards covering this wide range of issues. The negotiations were difficult in places given the range of employers and Governments represented at the meeting. Equality, diversity and inclusion was an important but at times difficult and divisive topic, but the MU made strong representations and we came away with some important commitments in the final text.

Reaching consensus on some issues meant compromise from the three parties, but we were also able to secure agreement on cross border mobility for workers which we were especially pleased with given barriers our members face when working overseas. The agreed text will be a useful lever in discussions with Governments when we argue for friction-less cross border mobility for our sector.

We are thrilled that we have come away with a wide range of commitments from Governments and Employer

Dave Webster, MU Head of International, says: “It was an important aspect of the negotiations that provisions around mobility were included. We are pleased that the comments and recommendations we made in the workers' group meetings were accepted by Government and Employer representatives.

“This text will be another tool in the box we can use to hopefully address the difficulties musicians face when crossing borders.”

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary, says: “Our presence at this negotiation was important and we are thrilled that we have come away with a wide range of commitments from Governments and Employers. We are grateful to our colleagues at FIM who represented our members' interests with great determination and good humour over a series of very long days.

As well as tackling mobility and issues affecting freelancers, we stood up for equality, diversity and inclusion and in particular spoke out on behalf of our LGBTQI+ members and colleagues.

“It is unfortunately still challenging in international meetings to secure rights for all, but the workers' group were united in fighting hard for a text that was genuinely inclusive. An important win.”

Our thanks go to the skilled negotiating team at FIM,FIA and UNI-MEI for helping us achieve these important results.

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