WPFD : Statement of solidarity with prosecuted Belarusian journalists

On the eve of the World Press Freedom Day 2018 (WPFD), the European Federation of Journalists expresses its solidarity with prosecuted journalists in Belarus. Unfortunately, the working conditions for journalists in Belarus cannot be regarded as free at all nowadays. Since 2015, the Belarusian official authorities have started a repression campaign against freelance journalists, who cooperate with foreign media. As a result of this campaign, the Belarusian journalists were fined 69 times for the alleged illegal production of mass media products in 2017. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), which is a local member of EFJ, has always considered the…

Exploitation of freelance journalists is a threat to our democracy

By Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists The gap between the incomes of the diminishing number of journalists with stable contracts and the growing band of freelances in Europe is getting bigger. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Freelance Expert Group (FREG) are appalled by this worsening situation. Such unfair pay practices cannot continue, since an increasing proportion of editorial content is written and produced by freelance journalists. This has an impact on the quality of journalism and, in the end, on democracy itself. That is why the EFJ has been supporting the ETUC’s PayRise…

Council of Europe Culture Committee asks governments to strenghten the status of journalists

The Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a draft resolution asking European governments to do more to protect media professionals, revising laws if necessary, as they state that media freedom is a “key prerequisite for the existence and development of a democratic society”. At a meeting in Bucharest on 4 December 2017, PACE Committee recognised the precarious nature of the current journalism profession, and the threats to journalistic values and freedoms. In response, PACE Committee unanimously adopted the draft resolution, asking governments of member states to assume their obligation to protect media professionals, to…

European Court: holiday pay for freelancers and bogus self-employed

On 29 November 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of paid annual leave for self-employed and bogus self-employed workers. Now, anyone who has been bogus self-employed can demand additional payment for annual leave. Article 7 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 4 November, 2003, provides 4 weeks of paid annual leave for every worker, and the European Court has said that this must not be thwarted by employers. The case came to the European Court after a British case in which Mr King, retiring after 13 years of employment, sought to recover payment…

Study recommends EU action to protect atypical workers

A recent study explored ‘Temporary contracts, precarious employment, employees’ fundamental rights and EU employment law‘, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions. The findings have implications for journalists, as atypical and precarious employment has been tied to media industries and digitisation. The study emphasises that precarious employment is a fundamental rights issue of enormous weight and significance within the EU’s normative order. Some groups, such as women and younger workers, are more affected by precarious employment. Self-employment, which affects many freelancers and journalists, is discussed in…

Contracts and collective bargaining for all: “Social Europe”

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), along with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and other European trade union organisations, submitted on 6 November its position on the 2nd phase consultation on the revision of the Written Statement Directive (931/55/EC) trying to extend the right for a written contract and social protection to self-employed workers. The EFJ, along with the ETUC, request in their response that Member States should ensure that all workers (including self-employed workers) have the right to fair remuneration in accordance with national law, collective agreements or practice at the appropriate level in conformity with national industrial…

Studies find precarious employment tied to digitalisation and the gig economy

The grey area between employment and self-employment, symptomatic in the media sector, has been highlighted by two recent studies focusing on online work and the “gig economy”. The separate 2017 studies, one by Eurofound (the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) and the other by Heyes and Hastings from the University of Sheffield, suggest a precarious status of employment for ever more workers. This precarity is tied to digitalisation and the “gig economy”. The study by Eurofound focuses on digital platform work. The most reliable estimate of this type of work among European Union member states is from the United Kingdom, where…

Today is the World Day for Decent Work!

Today is the World Day for Decent Work! A new survey from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) shows that unions have helped winning higher pay, saving jobs and securing new collective agreements over the past twelve months. The survey of 60 IFJ affiliates from every continent – released to coincide with World Day for Decent Work – shows that attacks on collective bargaining, low pay and a lack of rights for freelances are threatening to further undermine working conditions for journalists across the globe. A significant majority of unions surveyed highlighted a lack of collective bargaining, a lack of…

Ireland: Unions celebrate victory over competition authority

Irish freelance workers will be allowed the right to collective bargaining. On the evening of 31 May, the Irish Parliament adopted the Labour Party proposed Competition Amendment Bill 2016, which aims to introduce exemptions from competition law for certain self-employed workers. Since a competition ruling was handed down thirteen years ago, agreements  negotiated with  artists unions on minimum tariffs  have been considered as breaches of competition  law. To avoid the competition law a union has to prove either that its members are false independent workers (in a subordinate relationship, obliged to follow instructions,  do not share the same business risks…

New survey: who are the freelancers of Europe?

The number of independent workers is growing rapidly within the European labour market and behind what has become the standard label for self-employed professionals lies a wide range of different work scenarios. Who are the freelancers of Europe, how do they live and work in the different countries of the EU, what are their needs, expectations and how do they deal with the uncertain, precarious nature of freelance work? i-WIRE is the first Europe-wide survey of freelancers that will try to answer some of those questions. The EFJ encourages its affiliates and freelancers of Europe to fill out the questionnaire.…

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