Freelance

Freelance journalism is no longer an “atypical” form of work. In many countries the majority of journalists are freelancers. Many are journalists who would prefer traditional employment and have been forced into what we call “fake freelance” positions by employers who break local rules on employment by using freelances to fill full-time posts while avoiding state welfare and social charges.

Some appreciate the freedom, variety and flexibility of independent employment and feel it is increasingly the natural mode of work for journalists. The challenge of a freelance future is a test for journalists’ unions in Europe and around the world.

Contracts and fees, training, authors’ rights, and professional standards are all key issues for the freelance community of journalists. Innovative financing models, which can give freelance journalists new possibilities/niches in media, are being explored by the EFJ and its affiliates. The EFJ Freelance Expert Group recently organised a webinar on entrepreneurial journalism.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Authors’ Rights Expert Group (AREG) and the Freelance Experts’ Group (FREG) strive to defend and to promote freelance rights. We say to our staff colleagues: in order to defend your rights and conditions of work, you can do nothing more effective than to promote the highest standards for freelances.

The Freelance Experts’ Group’s focus for the coming years’ is based on the EFJ’s working programme:

  • Relaunch the Charter of Freelance Rights and promote it at national and European level;
  • Continue to organise webinars on issues important to European freelances;
  • Organise training seminars, including on safety, if funding is available, with the help of EFJ secretariat and cooperate with the Rory Peck Trust ;
  • Collect information on business models and new ways on how freelance journalism is paid for;
  • Monitor EU legislation and advocate for protection of freelance working conditions and decent fees, the right to organise freelances in trade unions and the right to do collective bargaining including for freelances;
  • Support the EFJ Unfair contract campaign;
  • Consider recruitment of freelance journalists in all media as an important angle in all discussions (see EFJ project work);
  • Support journalists’ organisations in fighting for equal rights including accreditation throughout Europe, with a recent focus on Belarus (Get Freelancers into Law http://baj.by/en/node/25104)

Actions

Organising and collective bargaining focus for EFJ Freelance Expert Group

“In each company we need to first deal with the staff workers, and find out about their main challenges at work. We need to map the company, the sector and then also map the situation of staff , freelances, agency and all workers “, said Erkan Ersoy, Director of Organizing  in UNI SCORE (Strategic Campaigns, Organising, Research + Education) who was invited to the Freelance Expert Group meeting to discuss how to apply the UNI organising strategy at company level to freelance journalists. Other tips include: Choose the most ethical media company to start with; Map: find out about pay…

President Juncker joined trade union debate on future of Europe

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a discussion on the future of Europe with trade union leaders from all EU countries. The discussion took place yesterday, in Brussels, during an extraordinary Executive Committee meeting of the ETUC. The European Federation of Journalists was represented by its General Secretary, Ricardo Gutiérrez. The ETUC believes a wide debate on the future of Europe is desperately needed due to the growing lack of trust in the EU caused by high unemployment and poverty, Brexit, terrorism, the failure to deal effectively with the refugee emergency, and growing…

Irish government must restore freelance rights for collective barganing

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), joining its affiliate in Ireland the National Union of Journalists, is welcoming the decision of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to challenge Ireland’s failure to treat freelance workers in accordance with the rights enshrined in the organisation’s convention. Following a complaint by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) the Irish government faces questions at the ILO assembly in Geneva about the treatment of freelance workers, who are denied the right to be collectively represented by unions as a result of the actions of the former Competition Authority in Ireland. The complaint was lodged…

Nordic Freelance Conference: The Significance of Independent Voices

The Norwegian Freelance Journalist Union (NJ Frilans) hosted the Nordic Freelance Seminar, which is held once a year,  in Ilsetra, Norway on 20-22 May. The over 100 participants were freelance journalists from EFJ affiliates in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The aim of the seminar was  networking and sharing experience, discussing recent trends both regarding ever more precarious working conditions for freelances and new technological tools to advance storytelling and journalism by getting closer to the audience. Frank Aarebrot, professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen in his opening speech adviced the community to demand public funding to…

Time Out Lisboa terminates contract with freelance journalist following payment claim

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has backed a case of a Portuguese freelance journalist whose contract with Time Out Lisboa was terminated because he stood up for his rights to claim payment for his work. The journalist who is also a member of the board at the Portuguese Union of Journalists (SJ) has been working for the last eight years as a freelance journalist Time Out Lisboa. However, the journalist was recently informed by the management of Time Out Lisboa that they will not continue working with him.  The journalist believed that the reason for the termination was due to…

Belarus fines freelance journalist for working with “foreign media”

Belarus continues its bad practice by handing over the first fine of the year on 13 January to freelance journalist, Larysa Shchyrakova, for working with “foreign media”.Following the ruling, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) have called for an immediate appeal of the ruling and urged the government to scrap the existing law. Shchyrakova, was fined 4 620 000 Belarusian rubles (around 225 EUR) by the Homiel District Court for breaking Article 22.9 of Belarusian Code on Administrative Offenses which forbids freelance journalists in the country from working with foreign media outlets. With…