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A glimmer of hope for freelancers

Political parties are in favour of granting rights to trade unions to negotiate collective bargaining agreements for self-employed workers.

Five of the eight biggest political parties who responded to a Journalisti’s survey are in favour of bringing self-employed people into the sphere of collective bargaining agreements. The current competition law disallows that.

The political parties in favour are the Christian Democrats, the True Finns, the Social Democrats the Left Coalition and the Greens of Finland.

According to the president of the Union of Journalists in Finland, Arto Nieminen the most important would be procuring the social security of entrepreneurs.

“How to define a self-employed and an entrepreneur is difficult but not impossible, he says.

The fact that so many political parties do recognize the self-employed, according to Nieminen, does give hope that something is happening. There is also opposition: the conservative National Coalition and the Centre Party are opposed to collective bargaining agreements for the self-employed.

It is the opinion of the National Coalition that the self-employed as entrepreneurs should manage their own affairs. The party would however like to look into how taxation and social security affect different forms of work and livelihoods: short-term contracts, ad hoc employment, freelancers, artistes, people on research grants, people living on copyrights earnings, people in regular employment, entrepreneurs and sole entrepreneurs.

The Centre Party would focus on designing a fee regime. Nieminen points out that because those using the work of freelancers are in such a dominant position in the media sector, few adhere to fee proposals.

“All the political parties have clearly not understood this problem”.

The political parties are in consensus training too many media professionals in the media sector. Yet it is only the Swedish People’s Party which provides clear targets for cutting back the training of too many media professionals: the bachelor degree in media at the polytechnic and vocational training schools.

The Left Coalitions says training should be primarily at the universities and in certain polytechnics.

According to the parties, the best way to evaluate the quality of training is to compare it to the employment level of those who have graduated in the sector. And so schools would receive funding separately based on certain determined quality criteria and not according to the number of study places allocated.

The last time Journalisti asked about the oversupply of trained media professionals was in last general elections in 2007. The problem was already present even at that time but no solution has been found.

According to Nieminen training too many media professionals has introduced a permanent market distortion in the media sector.

“Depressing. Our message has gone through but it appears that nothing is going to happen for the next four years. This is regional politics”.

The parties are not willing to touch the copyrights law – not at least so that the economic benefits of copyright works developed by an employee would automatically become the property of the employer.

The current copyrights law leaves the economic benefits of copyright works developed by an employee to a negotiated agreement. However, very often a worker is obliged to hand them over to the employer. It is often a condition for being offered a job.

In order for the so-called zero agreements to be heard in a law court, an individual worker has to file a case against the employer.

“The union would however like to first and foremost proceed through an agreement. The issue cannot be addressed through legal channels”, says Nieminen.

Journalisti also asked the political parties how they will spend their media support – previously press support. The parties gave assurances that it would be spent mainly on party newspapers but also online information dissemination.

It is only the Left Coalition that gave precise breakdown of the use of the money: one-quarter of the 1.5 euro support will go to newspaper and the rest to other forms of information dissemination.

The parties will not interfere with protection of journalist source. The Christian Democrats however cautioned that journalists should ensure among themselves that the protection as a possibility not be used to present false accusation.

Translated and edited by Linus Atarah

Original story: http://www.journalistiliitto.fi/journalisti/lehti/2011/06/artikkelit/toivoa-freelancereille/