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Amsterdam court defers judgement on low fees

A JUDGE in Amsterdam has deferred judgement in a case - the first of its kind - brought by two Dutch journalists who are taking their client to court over their low fees of €15 an hour.

NUJ logo; Photo: Matt Salusbury

The offices of the NVJ, the NUJ's sister union in Amsterdam, which is supporting the two journalists

Writer Britt van Uem and photographer Ruud Rogier have taken their former client, regional news publisher Persgroep ("Press Group") to court in Amsterdam, in a landmark action based on the Auteurscontractenwet (Authors' Contracts Act) which stipulates that remuneration for work must be "fair", with a judge determining what is fair if the court decides it is necessary. (See the May Freelance.)

Britt earns around 13 eurocents a word, while her colleague Ruud earns around €42 a photo from Persgroep. (That's per photo, not per hour, as erroneously reported in the May Freelance, sorry! This has now been corrected. Thanks to Paul Todd for pointing out the mistake.)

They are supported by the Nederlands Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ), the Dutch sister union of the NUJ.

At a hearing in May, the judge said he wanted more time to consider the way in which Persgroep decide what fees they will pay. He asked both parties to provide much more evidence on the background to the rates paid to freelances. Persgroep and the plaintiffs have until 14 June to produce this.