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Updates to MU Rules 2023

At the 2023 Delegate Conference, 20 changes to the MU Rules were proposed and passed. The updated MU Rules are applicable to all members from 26 July 2023.

Published: 29 August 2023 | 4:01 PM
Back of the room at MU Delegate Conference 2023, showing delegates sat down and facing the front table and screens.
The updated MU Rules are applicable to all members from 26 July 2023. Image credit: Joanna Dudderidge © The MU.

The changes were proposed and passed at MU Delegate Conference 2023, and are intended to progress the MU’s mission as an agile, sustainable, modern trade union.

The updated MU Rules are applicable to all members from 26 July 2023.

Summary of changes

Updates include the removal of out-dated gendered language, clarification of disciplinary procedures, encouraging conference motions through the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, allowing the Executive Committee greater flexibility on concessionary membership subscription models, clarifying how the Union will communicate important information with members, how committee meetings are conducted and improving democratic processes.

Detailed explanations of each change and the reasons behind it

1. Rule I (1): Objects and definitions

Reason for change:

Removal of wording which compelled the Union to make its accounting records available to “any person having an interest”. The TULRCA 1992 only requires such access to be granted to members and ex-members of the Union (for such periods within the previous six years when they were in membership). As this right for members and ex-members is statutory, there was no reason to continue to state it in the Rules:

Rule change (including removal struck through):

(1) The Musicians’ Union (hereinafter called ‘the MU’) is a Trade Union registered on the list of Trade Unions maintained by the relevant statutory authority. Its National Office is such place as shall be decided by the Executive Committee (hereinafter called ‘the EC’).

The MU’s accounting records and its membership database shall be available for inspection on notice by any person having an interest in the MU’s funds subject to the statutory provisions regarding data protection.

2. Rule II (1): Membership

Reason for change:

To permit re-admission of members who have been excluded from MU membership for a specified time period under the Union’s disciplinary processes once the period of exclusion has elapsed. The previous rule appeared to preclude such readmission. In addition, for clarity, the final sentence of point (c) has been moved to a separate line in order to indicate that it applies to the entirety of Rule II (1) and not just point (c):

Rule change:

(1) Persons are eligible to join the MU if, at the time of their application:

(a) They are following the profession of music; and,

(b) They are not members of any other body of musicians established for protective purposes which has been proscribed by the EC; and,

(c) They are not currently in a period of exclusion following expulsion from MU membership and have not been engaged in conduct contrary to the Rules of the MU.

Such other persons may be admitted to membership as may be deemed eligible by the EC.

3. Rule II (5): Membership

Reason for change:

To remove explicit reference to provision of a copy of the rules to all members. Historically, a paper copy of the Rules was provided to members upon joining, and a revised paper copy sent to all members following any amendment. This was very costly.

TULRCA 1992 (Section 27) only states: “A trade union shall at the request of any person supply him with a copy of its rules either free of charge or on payment of a reasonable charge.”

The Rule has been amended to reflect the requirements of the TULRCA 1992 only. Paper copies of the Rules will now only be provided to members who have specific access requirements that necessitate it. The Rules are already published on the MU website and will continue to be so. Their existence and location will be highlighted to members in new joiner packs and members will be notified of any amendments via the newsletter and any other communications deemed appropriate at the time.

Rule change:

(5) A copy of the MU’s Rules will be supplied to any person upon request either free of charge or on payment of a reasonable charge.

Note: It is not considered necessary to retain the wording “by which they shall be bound” as members adherence to the Rules is dealt with elsewhere under Rule XVII (1): Disciplinary Procedures:

“All MU members have a duty to observe the Rules of the MU.”

4. Rule II (9): Membership

Reason for change:

To remove explicit list of membership types in order to provide flexibility to EC in terms of any future membership proposals.

Rule change:

(9) The EC may appoint any person to be a member of the MU on such conditions and for such period as the EC decides. Save where the context otherwise requires or admits, references in these Rules to a member or members include all members of the MU.

5. Rule II (10): Membership

Reason for change:

To remove the 90-day notice period currently specified before complying with the decision of a TUC Disputes Committee. It is considered that the Union may wish to act more swiftly than this, or at least have the freedom to do so. There is nothing in the “TUC Rules and Standing Orders” that requires such a notice period, so the change does not compromise compliance with TUC guidelines. In the “TUC Rules and Standing Orders” the term used is “a” Disputes Committee not “the” Disputes Committee, so this has also been updated.

Rule change:

(10) Notwithstanding anything in these Rules the EC may terminate the membership of any member if necessary in order to comply with the decision of a Disputes Committee of the Trades Union Congress.

6. Rule II (13): Membership

Reason for change:

To clarify the methods of communication which the Union will use to convey non-statutory information to members, a new sub-rule (13) has been inserted. There is considerable expense in sending letters to members who have not kept email correspondence records up to date. It is proposed that unless there is a statutory requirement to do so, paper communication will be limited to members who specifically request it on the basis of access requirements.

Rule change:

(13) Save as required by law, notices to members shall be deemed to have been published when communicated via any or all of the following methods: Statements, messages or notices posted on the MU website (including via the member’s individual “myMU” portal) for a minimum of two weeks; direct email via the email address provided by the member; inclusion in the MU magazine. Where a member has informed the MU of individual access requirements, the union will take such steps as are reasonably practicable so that the member is not excluded from essential communications.

7. Rule III (5): Regions

Reason for change:

To allow more flexibility on dates for holding Regional AGMs by removing the reference to the month of “September”. Historically it has not always been possible to find convenient dates for all six to take place within the same month.

Also to allow flexibility on the date of closure of nominations and the method of nomination for election to Regional Committees. Historically handwritten paper forms have been used and posted or sometimes handed in on the day of the AGM. The new wording allows the EC to specify nomination methods, which could then include electronic or online nomination, and for the EC to specify a nomination deadline that falls in advance of each AGM to ensure no nominations are missed (for instance electronic nominations received during the holding of the AGM itself).

Finally, adding the requirement to provide membership number of nominee in any Regional Committee nomination. In practice this already happens, but it is specified explicitly in the equivalent rule covering nominations for EC, so it has been mirrored here for consistency.

Rule change:

(5) An Annual General Meeting of all members in the Region (hereinafter called ‘the Regional AGM’) shall normally be held each year. Any candidate for the Regional Committee shall be nominated by another member of that Region. Such nomination, and consent and membership number of the nominee, must be received by the Secretary of the Regional Committee on or before dates and via methods specified by the EC from time to time.

8. Rule III (11): Regions

Reason for change:

In order to permit co-opted members of regional committees to vote, sub-rule 11 has been removed. It is considered that if a member volunteers to give up time to attend committee meetings, and is selected by the committee to be co-opted, then they should enjoy the same rights as other committee members.

Rule change (including removal struck through):

(11) In exceptional circumstances the EC may authorise the cooption of members on to a Regional Committee. Any members co-opted on to a Regional Committee will not enjoy voting rights.

9. Rule IV (3): Election of EC

Reason for change:

To allow flexibility on the date of closure and method of nomination for election to the Executive Committee, mirroring the changes applicable to Regional Committee elections. As the nomination closure date is now specified by the EC rather than tied to the date of the AGM, the process of election for casual vacancies no longer requires separate explanation so has been removed.

Rule change:

(3) Any candidate for the Executive Committee shall be nominated by another member of their Region. Such nomination, and consent and membership number of the nominee, must be received by the Secretary of the Regional Committee on or before dates and via methods specified by the EC from time to time.

10. Rule IV (7) to (9): Election of EC

Reason for change:

In order to allow additional space on Regional Committees to encourage a pipeline of new activists and also to avoid situations where proposals from Regional Committees to the Executive Committee are being generated and then reviewed by the same individual, which presents a democracy issue, a new sub-rule (7) has been inserted which prevents a member sitting on the EC and their Regional Committee at the same time. Existing sub-rules IV (7) and IV (8) have been renumbered accordingly.

Rule change:

(7) Members shall not hold a seat on their Regional Committee whilst they remain a member of the EC but are entitled to attend Regional Committee meetings as an observer.

(8) If a casual vacancy shall occur, an election shall be held as soon as is practicable. The member elected shall take office immediately the result is declared and shall continue in office for the unexpired period of office of the member who has vacated their office.

(9) If within any period of 60 days a majority of the Regional Committees in existence at the end of such period shall have passed a resolution to that effect, a special delegate conference shall be held to consider whether all the members of the EC shall be removed from office and the General Secretary shall decide the time and place of and make arrangements for the conference. All the members of the EC shall be removed from office if the special delegate conference shall so resolve and the functions and powers of the EC shall thereupon devolve upon the General Secretary until the election of a new EC. The General Secretary shall arrange for such election to be held as soon as is practicable.

11. Rule VI (3): Motions to EC, Regional Committees and Delegate Conferences

Reason for change:

To permit motions to be submitted to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee for consideration at Delegate Conference. The motions are to be limited to EDI matters and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee will select one of the submitted motions to go forward per Delegate Conference.

Rule change:

(3) Motions from members to a Delegate Conference must be submitted in writing for consideration by a Regional Committee or the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

(a) Motions to a Regional Committee must be supported by at least five members of the Region who must provide their names and membership numbers. A motion may be accepted, rejected or amended by the Regional Committee. If a motion, as amended, is accepted by the meeting on a majority vote, the Regional Organiser shall submit it for consideration at the next Delegate Conference, subject to any restrictions on the number of motions as set out in Conference Standing Orders.

(b) Motions to the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee must be concerned solely with issues and matters relating to equality, diversity and inclusion and must be supported by at least five members who must provide their names and membership numbers. One such motion may be accepted or amended by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion shall submit such motion for consideration at the next Delegate Conference.

12. Rule VIII (9): The General Secretary

Reason for change:

Removal of gendered language.

Rule change:

(9) The General Secretary may be suspended from office by resolution of the EC on the ground that they are or may be unable and/or unwilling to perform their duties satisfactorily and/or have brought the MU into disrepute, upon a motion to that effect being moved at a duly convened meeting and carried by a vote in favour of not less than 75% of the total number of serving EC members. In the event of such a resolution being passed, the General Secretary shall forthwith be suspended from office and the EC shall arrange immediately for a ballot vote of members on a motion to remove the General Secretary from office on such grounds as the EC shall determine.

13. Rule XI (6) to (12): Subscriptions

Reason for change:

Rule XI (6) has been removed entirely, which removes reference to concessionary student membership. There is no plan to withdraw student membership, but there have been proposals to permit part time students to qualify for the same rate, and to expand the rate to include members under a specified age limit, whether they are students or not. Removal of Rule XI (6) and a minor adjustment to Rule XI (7) allows the EC flexibility to endorse such proposals, which it is hoped will benefit membership levels.

Sub-rules XI (7) to (12) have been renumbered accordingly and pre-existing mistakes in the cross-referencing in current Rules XI (10) and XI (11) have been corrected.

Rule change:

[Remove Current Rule XI (6) altogether and renumber remainder of Rule XI accordingly, as below]

(6) Concessionary member status shall also apply for so long as a member is in full-time education having notified the Union in writing to that effect and provided proof of student status when requested.

(6) The EC may grant Concessionary member status to any member on such terms and for such periods as it may in its absolute discretion think fit.

(7) A concessionary member shall be liable to pay a subscription of an amount according to a scale determined by the EC and shall be entitled only to such benefits, services or privileges of membership and to hold such offices or to nominate or vote in such Union elections or ballots as the EC from time to time in its absolute discretion may determine.

(8) The subscription due from each member shall be remitted no later than 28 days after the time provided for in clause 1 of this rule. Each member shall be given written notice that their subscription is overdue, and of the action to be taken in the event of their failure to pay within the notified timescale.

(9) Any member whose subscription is not paid within the 28 day period specified in Rule XI 8, and/or with levies or fines 28 days’ outstanding, shall cease to be a member.

(10) Any Officer who ceases to be a member under Rule XI 9 shall automatically cease to hold office.

(11) Where a member pays subscriptions by direct debit, any reference to the renewal date on the member’s individual membership card shall be read as referring to the date on which the direct debit instalment is due and any reference to the subscription shall be read as referring to an instalment.

14. Rule XI (11): Subscriptions

Reason for change:

To remove reference to membership cards in line with the EC’s decision to discontinue them. Suitable alternative wording has been inserted. Note: this was previously Rule XI (12), but due to renumbering caused by other changes has now become Rule XI (11).

Rule change:

(11) Where a member pays subscriptions by direct debit, any reference to the renewal date shall be read as referring to the date on which the direct debit instalment is due and any reference to the subscription shall be read as referring to an instalment.

15. Rule XII (1): Levies

Reason for change:

To replace reference to publishing notice of any changes in “the official journal” with more flexible options. The magazine, at least in paper form, is not regularly produced now and it is considered necessary to increase flexibility in how members are notified of changes so this can be done as efficiently as possible.

Rule change:

If the EC should consider it desirable that for any purpose there should be a national or Regional levy, it shall formulate a scheme (which may provide for payment of reduced amounts or none at all by some of the members) and submit it to the vote of the members. If a majority of the members voting at meetings held for that purpose shall be in favour of the levy the EC shall give notice of the imposition of the levy via its usual member communication methods at the time.

16. Rule XVI (5): Rules of meetings

Reason for change:

To clarify what should happen if a meeting is held at which neither the regular Chair of Vice-Chair is present, a new sub-rule (5) has been inserted.

Rule change:

(5) In the absence of the elected Chairperson or Vice Chair the meeting attendees present will elect a Chairperson from amongst their number for that meeting only.

17. Rule XVII (9)(f) & (14): Disciplinary Procedures

Reason for change:

To clarify that the disciplinary committee has the power to limit expulsion of a member from the MU to a specified period, not just permanent expulsion. A further change has been made which clarifies the requirement placed upon a suspended member under (9)(f) applies to all instances of suspension referred to under Rule XVII, which is achieved by moving the wording to a new sub-rule (14).

Rule change:

(9) Where the Disciplinary sub-committee considers a disciplinary charge is proved against a member, it may impose any one or more of the following penalties:

(f) Expulsion of the member from the MU for such a period as the disciplinary committee shall in their absolute discretion consider appropriate.

(14) A member suspended under this rule XVII shall, during the period of suspension, remain liable for subscriptions and levies and all the obligations of membership.

18. Rule XVII (10): Disciplinary Procedures

Reason for change:

Removal of gendered language.

Rule change:

(10) At any time during an investigation or disciplinary under this Rule XVII, the General Secretary (or such persons delegated under Rule XVII (5)) may suspend the member concerned for such period and on such terms as they shall in their absolute discretion think appropriate.

19. Rule XX: Political Fund (except Northern Ireland)

Reason for proposed change:

To remove gendered language and also to update the Certification Office’s address and remove reference to publication of notices in the “journal”:

Rule change (including word removals struck through):

(1.2) Where a person attends a conference or meeting as a delegate or otherwise as a participator in the proceedings, any expenditure incurred in connection with his their attendance as such shall, for the purposes of paragraph (e) above, be taken to be expenditure incurred on the holding of the conference or meeting.

(5) For the purpose of enabling each member of the union who may pay a political contribution to know in respect of any such contribution, what portion, if any, of the sum payable by him them is a contribution to the political fund of the union, it is hereby provided that the first 2p of each £1 contribution is a contribution to the political fund, and that any member who is exempt shall be relieved from the payment of the sum of the first 2p of each £1 contribution, and shall pay the remainder of such contribution only.

(6) A member who is exempt from the obligation to contribute to the political fund of the union shall not be excluded from any benefits of the union, or placed in any respect either directly or indirectly under any disability or disadvantage as compared with other members of the union (except in relation to the control or management of the political fund) by reason of his their being so exempt.

(7) If any member alleges that he is they are aggrieved by a breach of any of these rules for the political fund, being a rule or rules made pursuant to section 82 of the 1992 Act, he they may complain to the Certification Officer, and the Certification Officer, after making such enquiries as he they thinks fit and after giving the complainant and the union an opportunity of being heard, may, if he they considers that such a breach has been committed, make such order for remedying the breach as he they thinks just in the circumstances. Any such order of the Certification Officer may, subject to the right of appeal provided by section 95 of the 1992 Act, be enforced in the manner provided for in section 82(4) of the 1992 Act.

Notice to members

2.This notice shall be published to members by such methods as are used by the union to publish notices of importance to members. It is the union’s current practice to publish such notices by inclusion in its journal.

Request for exemption

3. Any member of the union may at any time give notice a) on the form of exemption notice specified in rule 5, or b) written request in a form to the like effect, that he they objects to contribute to the political fund. A form of Exemption Notice may be obtained by, or on behalf of, any member, either by application at, or by post from, the head office or any branch office of the union, or from the Certification Office for Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations, Lower Ground Floor, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. 8th Floor, Windsor House, 50 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0TL.

Opting in by union members to contribute to political funds

4. A member of a trade union may give an opt-in notice or a withdrawal notice:

d. by any other electronic means prescribed under the 1992 Act (as inserted amended by the 2016 Act)

Information to members about opting in to the political fund

10. If any member alleges that he is they are aggrieved by a breach of any of these rules for giving information to members about opting into the political fund, being a rule or rules made pursuant to section 84A of the 1992 Act, he they may complain to the Certification Officer. Where the Certification Officer is satisfied that the union has failed to comply with a requirement of section 84A of the 1992 Act the Officer may make such order for remedying the failure as he they thinks just under the circumstances. Before deciding the matter the Certification Officer:

Manner of giving effect to decision not to contribute to political fund

12. Any form (including an electronic form) that a person has to complete in order to become a member of the union shall include:

b. a statement setting to the effect that a person who chooses not to contribute to the political fund shall not, by reason of not contributing, be excluded from any benefits of the union or be placed in any respect either directly or indirectly under a disability or at a disadvantage as compared with other members of the union (except in relation to control of the political fund).

20. Rule XXI: Political Fund (Northern Ireland members)

Reason for proposed change:

To remove gendered language and also to update the Certification Office’s address.

Proposed Rule Change ((including word removals struck through):

(1) Under Article 59 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 no Northern Ireland member of the Union shall be required to make any contribution to the Political Fund of the Union unless he/she has they have delivered, as provided in sub- Rule 2 herein, to the National Office or some Regional Office of the Union, a notice in writing, in the form set out in sub-Rule 2 herein, of his/her their willingness to contribute to that Fund, and has not withdrawn the notice in the manner provided in sub-Rule 3 herein, is to be deemed for the purpose of these Rules to be a member who is exempt from the obligation to contribute to the Political Fund of the Musicians’ Union.

(3) If at any time a Northern Ireland member of the Musicians’ Union, who has delivered such a notice as is provided for in sub-Rule 1 and sub-Rule 2 herein, gives notice of withdrawal thereof, delivered as provided in sub-Rule 1 herein, to the National Office or at any Regional Office of the Musicians’ Union, he/she they shall be deemed to have withdrawn the notice as from the first day of January next after the delivery of the notice of withdrawal.

(8) If any Northern Ireland member alleges that he/she is they are aggrieved by a breach of any of the Rules made pursuant to Article 59 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 he/she they may complain to the Northern Ireland Certification Officer, 10-16 Gordon Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG, under Article 70 of The Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992.

If, after giving the complainant and a representative of the Musicians’ Union an opportunity to be heard, the Certification Officer considers that a breach has been committed, he/she they may make an order for remedying it as he/she they thinks just in the circumstances. Under Article 69 of the 1995 Order an appeal against any decision of the Certification Officer may be made to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal on a question of law. Additionally, if any Northern Ireland member alleges that he/she is they are aggrieved by a breach of the Political Fund Rules made pursuant to Section 82 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 he/she they may complain to the GB Certification Officer, 2nd Floor, Euston Tower, 286 Euston Road, London NW1 3JJ 8th Floor, Windsor House, 50 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0TL. If, after giving the complainant and a representative of the Musicians’ Union an opportunity of being heard, the GB Certification Officer considers that a breach has been committed, he/she they may make an order for remedying it as he/she they think just in the circumstances. Any such order of the GB Certification Officer is subject to the right of appeal provided for by Section 82 (4) of the 1992 Act.

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