European Federation of Journalists

Trade unions in media and culture sectors joined forces to protect atypical workers’ rights

Credits: FIA

On 7-8 June 2023, several European journalists’ trade unions met in Madrid with their counterparts representing actors, musicians, translators, media workers and other cultural figures to discuss collective bargaining for atypical workers. The conference was the final event of the Atypical Workers project, of which the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a partner, together with the International Federation of Actors (FIA), the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) and UNI-MEI.

The goal of this EU-funded project, which started in 2021, was to promote the rights of atypical workers in various sectors and improve the capacity of trade unions in servicing these members. During the conference, union representatives exchanged cross-sector and cross-border practices on protecting the solo self-employed, outlined the challenges they face in Europe and committed to sharing best practices for retaining members.

The project partners also discussed the EU Guidelines on collective agreements by solo self-employed people, which were published last year by the European Commission. These guidelines aim to clarify when certain self-employed workers can come together to collectively bargain for better working conditions without infringing EU competition rules. The guidelines were explained in detail, and participants discussed how to apply them in practice.

As part of the project, unions from France (SNJ-CGT), Spain (CC.OO, UGT) and the Netherlands (NVJ) received a year-long training from two experts on organising trade unions, Tara O’Dowd and Becky Wright. They focused on the strength of the trade unions’ structures along with the challenges that unions face. Each union learned how to use the necessary tools to increase membership and involve members in their activism. 

“We got involved because we have been working on freelancers’ rights for some time in FREG [EFJ Freelancers’ Expert Group]”, says Marta Barcenilla, Institutional Responsive at CC.OO and member of the EFJ Steering Committee. “We focus on atypical workers because it is needed, given that our members in the media and culture sectors are part of this group.”

For more information about the project or the EFJ’s freelance expert group, please contact