Concerned about Brexit? We hope to help
LONDON FREELANCE Branch has many members who are not UK citizens, and many of these are citizens of other EU member states. Several have approached us with, unsurprisingly, concerns. Both the Branch and the NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council are working to help the union's staff provide advice and individual support - as soon as we know what the advice needs to be about.
On the status of EU citizens who are now working in the UK, the Freelance recently mentioned this to a rather senior UK official. The response was: "but of course under international law all those already resident in the UK would have their status 'grandfathered'." That means that - so long as the UK government respects international law - anyone now legally working in the country can stay.
There are, of course, many open questions, such as those over benefits like Working Tax Credit; and how will freelances prove we are "working". These questions are open because no-one in government has the faintest idea, either.
And there are equally questions for NUJ members working in the rest of the EU: not least, how to get management to maintain their earnings against the fall in the pound.
More generally, the NUJ has collaborated in a Federation of Entertainment Unions submission on concerns about the potential effect of Brexit on the creative industries.
And of course concern is not restricted to legal matters. Any members who are threatened by "kick 'em out" tendencies spinning off from Brexit - perhaps particularly those from outside the EU - are invited to contact the Freelance.
8 December 2016
We wonder whether the abovementioned sanguine official was even aware of the creeping wall barriers put in front of peopke who, for safety, apply for a permanent residency card. You now need need five years of bank statements and utility bills. Shockingly, you need proof of having paid for private health insurance, too.
The Freelance apologises for not having been on top of this - that last requirement is an attack on everyone living in these islands and our healthcare. One applicant was told to "get a statement from my kids' school to say I am there every day at drop off/pick up" to prove her presence in the country. Had we known, we'd have started a voluntary register of attendance at Branch meetings - er, five years ago.
We will have news soon of initiatives co-ordinated by the Trades Union Congress.