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Bully for you, freelances

The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU, of which the NUJ is a part) launched Creating Without Conflict, a report on bullying in the "creative industries", in November. The report (linked from the NUJ website) is well worth a read, at a manageable 30 pages

It found that of the more than 4000 who responded (members of BECTU, Equity, the Musicians' Union, the NUJ, the Professional Footballers' Association, Unite or the Writers' Guild) to a survey on workplace bullying, two-thirds were "freelance, part freelance, part-employed, or on a fixed-term contract", and more that two thirds worked across more than one sector of the creative industries.

The report commented that "The creative industries are seen as glamorous and there is great competition to get in and get on. But the reality is most workers are freelance or work on short-term contracts and have few statutory rights. There is the fear that there is always someone else hungry to take your place if you complain." It quoted a 2013 BBC document that said freelances and workers on short-term fixed contracts were "14 per cent less likely to report ill-treatment in the workplace and are often not covered by employers' bullying policies".

The creative industries are also seen as an environment where "allowances" are made for "extravagant" and "exuberant talented individuals" and where bullying becomes "behaviour learnt from generation to generation."

Although staffers were more likely to report bullying, the full-time freelances surveyed expressed less bullying than full-time staffers. It was noted that freelances' "flexibility does occasionally enable them to avoid workplaces where conflict might be a problem".

The NUJ's contribution included material from the Leveson Inquiry on bullying in newsrooms - which was worst in the local newspaper sector.

Creating Without Conflict's recommendations included "greater security for freelance workers" and the setting up of a confidential helpline for freelances on bullying.

Last modified: 06 Jan 2014 - © 2014 contributors
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