The curse of the freelance classes

FREELANCE Organiser John Toner gave a freelance sector report to the NUJ's Delegate Meeting 2014 that focused on "unpaid work... the curse of the freelance classes. Where has this idea come from," he asked, "that journalistic work should be provided for free?"

John noted that clients prefer to use the term "content" because "to call it work would give it value." We now face the excretions of "a billion egos who believed their opinions are of interest to someone other than their cat." Publishers, added John, ask journalists: why should we pay you if we can get content for free? Why, then, should we bother to download their "content"?

And why, asked John, "is this happening in an industrialised country where the rule of law operates?" It's because we have "no National Minimum Wage for self-employed people... It is legal to work for nothing" so long as you're not employed.

And freelances also have "no right to collective bargaining... Freelances do not have to right to strike." But as other forms of work diminish, "our industry is rapidly becoming freelance" with "no statutory rights".

We need to press for those among our sister unions in the Trade Unions Congress "to enable freelances to learn a living wage."

Last modified: 05 May 2014 - © 2014 contributors
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