A judge has ruled that 17 members of Scotland’s Street Orchestra are owed over £30,000 in compensation after the charity suddenly went out of business.
Members of Nevis Ensemble were left “heartbroken” after the company announced sudden insolvency in January 2023 leaving many in financial hardship.
The charity aimed to provide “music for everyone” with 19 Fellows regularly performing in care homes, prisons, schools and to recovery groups.
The musicians said that they had been promised an annual bursary of £11,000 paid in instalments of £1,000 every month. Their wage for January 2023 was not paid to them before the board of trustees announced the insolvency.
A fundraiser was launched to support the musicians with over £10,000 raised.
Employment judge Maclean has now ruled that 17 members of the group are entitled to a share of £30,350 for unauthorised deduction of wages, breach of contract and unpaid holidays.
Nevis Ensemble, based in Easterhouse, Glasgow, was launched in 2018 and delivered almost 700 performances during its time in operation.
Announcing the closure, the board said they were facing “severe funding challenges” and were “unable to deliver their activities”.
A statement published on the website, read: “It is with the saddest of hearts that, effective Tuesday, January 24, 2023, the Board of Trustees close the doors of Nevis Ensemble
“In five short years, Nevis Ensemble has changed the narrative of what orchestras and classical music in general should be doing, in terms of inclusion, promoting new music, and sustainability
“As a small organisation with a big heart, we are proud to have had an audience of almost 200,000 people across Scotland, as well as more than one million online during lockdown, and changed the perceptions with musicians themselves on what they can do for our communities.”
The employment tribunal judgement was made as a Rule 21 of the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure 2013 which occurs when a respondent either does not wish to contest a claim against it, or fails to put in a response to it that is valid under the rules.
Sam Dunkley, Musicians’ Union Acting Regional Organiser, Scotland & Northern Ireland said “We are pleased that the Employment Tribunal Judgment has found in favour of the Nevis Fellows and awarded compensation for losses suffered and for a protective award for the lack of information and consultation. These musicians were dismissed with no notice or consultation process, leaving them in real financial peril and without the security they should have had.
“We hope that those engaging musicians take time to consider the impact of this finding and recognise employed musicians properly in their workforce, as well as following appropriate redundancy and consultation procedures when necessary.
“With our members able to recover some £47,000 we are proud that we were able to stand with these musicians when they needed the support of the MU.
“There are still unanswered questions about the failure of the Nevis Ensemble which led to this tribunal judgment and leaves genuinely self-employed musicians still owed thousands of pounds. We await the findings of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s investigation with interest.”
Daniel Kindell of Morrish Solicitors, who acted for the Fellows said “All too often in cases where employers are insolvent, the duties to give prior warning and consult with staff before jobs are lost are flouted. It’s devastating for those who have to go through it, both emotionally and financially. I’m therefore delighted to have been able to assist these members in securing the compensation they deserve, with the unwavering support of the Musicians’ Union.”
“Nevis Fellow and Musicians’ Union Steward Lynn Henderson said ‘For emerging, early career musicians, the financial difference made by this award is significant; it has helped to keep the former fellows afloat and allowed us to continue performing, with many of us still bringing music to those who cannot traditionally access it.”
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