News / 05.03.2011

Situation of the self-employed should be an election issue

Improvements are needed in the social and unemployment security as well as bargaining rights of self-employed interpreters who are categorised as entrepreneurs.

A vast majority of the members of the Journalists’ union who are not in regular employment are freelance-tax card carriers who are dependent on a few clients.

“The income of freelancers is one-third of those in regular employment. In the current situation entrepreneurship no longer brings the profits that has long been associated with it”, says the Union President, Arto Nieminen.

The number of self-employed is increasing all the time in others sectors besides the creative sector. The journalists’ union is trying with other trade unions as well as The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and The Confederation of Professionals (STTK) to bring about needed changes in legislation.

The Journalists’ union especially wants improvements in the competition law. The current competition law – in others words cartel law – also touches on self-employed freelancers, even though they are dependent on a few big clients.

“The law on competition restriction should be changed in a way that would recognise self-employed as parties in the labour market and they should be brought into the sphere of proper collective bargaining process. In other words the trade union should have the right to negotiate remuneration and copyrights on behalf of self-employed”, says Nieminen.

SJL is also for waiting answers from political parties as to whether trade union should have class action litigation. The current legislation governing labour disputes stipulates that a case can be taken to court if an individual plaintiff can be found.

The union is also waiting for a solution to the eternal problem of too much training in the media sector from the next government.  

“Now we would need clear proposals from the political parties as to the starting place for enrolment reductions”, says Nieminen.

The other eternal problem that needs speedy resolution is funding of YLE, the state broadcasting company. The position of SJL on financing the operations of YLE from the state budget is half-hearted but otherwise it has no clear stand on any financing model.

The most important would be to have long-term funding that would guarantee its current level of operations”.

In the opinion of SJL, the government’s approved media support, previously newspaper support, should precisely be directed to the media and not for campaign work of political parties. The support for cultural and opinionated newspapers should be continuous and not subject to annual discussion, Nieminen points out.

On the part of copyrights, the union is waiting for a determination of the level of compensation because for instance, the current level of private copying remuneration (formerly cassette levy) – which allows consumers to copy the work of authors, musician and performers for private use – is not commensurate with current copying devices or the amount of storage. The copyright law should also define what is reasonable remuneration for a producer.

Translated and edited by Linus Atarah.

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