News / 24.05.2024

UJF Council: Hanne Aho highlights collective agreements for freelancers and threats to collective bargaining

The Union of Journalists will use all possible means of negotiation to promote the working conditions of freelancers. This was emphasised by UJF President Hanne Aho speaking at the opening of the two-day spring meeting of the UJF Council. Photo: Heli Saarela

The Union of Journalists will use all possible means of negotiation to promote the working conditions of freelancers.

This was emphasised by UJF President Hanne Aho speaking at the opening of the two-day spring meeting of the UJF Council in Helsinki, Thursday 23 May.

Aho used her speech to underline the importance of protecting and developing collective bargaining agreements.

The situation of freelance media workers become a priority concern of the union.

Aho said that the union will continue to press media houses for negotiations to test the implementation of the right to collective bargaining.

The UJF began inviting media and publishing companies to open roundtable discussions on freelance working conditions after the Competition and Consumer Authority last year confirmed the right of trade unions to negotiate on behalf of self-employed workers.

“But few of those invited turned up,” said Aho. "This spring, we sent out a second round of invitations. Fifty industry decision-makers and media companies were invited. Only one replied, the others did not even bother to reply. That was Kansan Uutset.

“The UJF is a collective bargaining organisation, and our aim has always been to negotiate. We have always believed that negotiation is the best way to get the best result. That is why we will use all possible means to promote collective bargaining for freelancers.

"We know and we see all the time how difficult it is to negotiate conditions for those who do not actually have working conditions.”

Aho stressed the importance of the universality of collective agreements, whereby all employers in the sector have to follow the same rules.

The union has succeeded in improving position of workers in the film and TV sector, through a collective agreement that took effect last year.

Before that, companies that did not sign up to the agreement could apply almost any working conditions.

Working hours and conditions were unreasonable, wages were poor and, in the absence of shop stewards, help or support was hard to come by.

“If there is no bottom line defined in a collective agreement, working conditions can be almost anything,” said Aho.

Risk of worsening working conditions in the media sector

Aho expressed concern about how Petteri Orpo’s government plans will impact working life.

She said that the UJF had seen what weakening or even abolishing the collective bargaining system would mean.

Wages and working conditions would deteriorate in all forms of work. The government's plans for more localised agreements could weaken the role of national collective bargaining agreements.

“It will first become weaker weaken in other sectors, but if the system gradually breaks down, there is a risk that working conditions in the media sector will also be undermined.”


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