Belgium: Everything is going up, except freelance rates

Freelance rates in Belgium have been stagnating for three years, according to a survey conducted in May and June 2022 by the Belgian Association of Professional Journalists (AJP). In a context of rising inflation (8% expected), the gap between employed journalists, who benefit from annual salary indexation, and freelancers is widening. The journalists’ organisation will make the remuneration of freelancers a priority from September. Journalism is one of the few sectors where the clients – the media – set the rates. The different calculation practices (billing per sign, per word, per line, per article, per day) make it difficult, to…

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.…

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…