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Musicians’ Union elects Naomi Pohl as first female leader

By | Published on Tuesday 8 March 2022

Naomi Pohl

The UK’s Musicians’ Union has elected a new General Secretary, with Naomi Pohl getting the most votes from the union’s membership. She is the first female General Secretary in the organisation’s almost 130 year history. Somewhat aptly, her election was confirmed yesterday evening just ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day.

“I am delighted and humbled to have been elected to the role of MU General Secretary”, she says in a statement. “It means a great deal that musicians across genres and disciplines have put their faith in me and I want nothing more than to deliver for them all. To musicians who have been under-represented by the union in the past and saw this election as an opportunity for positive change, I am here to listen and make sure your voices are heard. I will make myself available and ensure I am present in the spaces where you work”.

“Thank you to all members who engaged with the election process, took the time to vote and who reached out to me directly with feedback about the union”, she goes on. “To all those who didn’t vote for me, I hear that you want change. The union is here for every musician, and I hope it can be a unifying force as we take on many challenges collectively – please reach out”.

On the job now facing her, she continues: “After the toughest imaginable two years for musicians, there is plenty of work to do. We can improve pay for our employed and freelance members post-pandemic, tackle the impact of Brexit and fix streaming. We will also ensure we meet the objectives set out in the MU Equality Action Plan, in the UK Music Diversity Ten Point Plan, and we will continue our vital work to eliminate discrimination and harassment from the industry”.

“In order to secure the future of the profession, we will also launch a new music education campaign and move arts funding back up the union’s lobbying agenda during my term”, she adds. “I know these are issues that really matter to musicians”.

Pohl succeeds Horace Trubridge, who took up the General Secretary role in 2017 following John Smith, who had headed up the union for fifteen years. Originally elected for a five year stint, to the end of this month, in 2020 the union extended Trubridge’s term to 2025. However, following a complaint by a member, and upon legal advice, his original term was then reinstated.

Trubridge decided not to stand for re-election, with Pohl, currently Deputy General Secretary, as well as Regional Organiser For The Midlands Stephen Brown, and Orchestras Official Morris Stemp, all standing to replace him. Voting closed yesterday.

Welcoming Pohl’s election, Trubridge says: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead the union for the last five years, ably assisted by Naomi and Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear. I have had the pleasure of promoting Naomi up through the ranks and I am delighted to hear that she has won the election to become the MU’s very first female General Secretary”.

Trubridge’s term as General Secretary officially comes to an end on 27 Mar.