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Union of Journalists to the EU Commission: a collective bargaining right for the self-employed

The Union of Journalists has voiced clear support for the European Commission’s plans to develop the collective bargaining right of self-employed workers.

The union issued a response to the EU initaitive in early February that stresses the need to revamp EU legislation to ensure that collective bargain rights are extended to self-employed people, which in the media industry especially concerns freelancers.

The union cited a 2019 case where the Office of the National Conciliator in Finland, which deals with settling labour disputes, specifically stated that extending conciliation services to translators in audio-visual media would require a change to EU legislation.

“Competition law now effectively prevents self-employed workers from negotiating their working conditions collectively. In this way, the position of the self-employed is clearly weaker than that of the employed. We need to make improvements to this issue now at the latest, ”says UJF lawyer Hannu Hallamaa.

The Commission’s initiative has tabled four different options, on which it has requested opinions from member states. The UJF favours of the broadest alternative, which would allow for consultation on the affairs of all members.

“In Finland, the average income of freelance journalists is only half of the average income of regular employees. The union believes that collective bargaining is an appropriate and fair way to improve the position of freelancers”, says Hallamaa.

He notes that the corona pandemic has further accelerated this need. “Freelancers have been the first to suffer from the media crisis,”

UJF Feedback on EU commission inception impact assessment.

Feedback from: Association of Freelance journalists in Finland