tuc news TUC, we need you! say NUJ freelances

THE TUC was urged to give its full backing to freelances as well as employed workers. While is it campaigning for

the rights of those who are ‘falsely self-employed’, the union movement should remember there are many self-employed workers who are keen to maintain their self-employed status and need union representation. Speaking for the NUJ,

Pennie Quinton made the point that she was chair of what is the union’s largest branch – the 3,000-strong London Freelance branch. “Within the trade union

movement, freelance work is often seen as an option of last resort,” said Quinton. “This is not the case for many

of our members for whom the freedom of freelancing is a happy choice, giving them autonomy and control over their lives.” And, like others, freelance journalists needed the support of their union – to tackle late payments, low pay and poor working conditions, she said.

She added that smaller craft

unions, like the NUJ and the Musicians’ Union, had a wealth of experience in representing creatives and the TUC should use this body of knowledge to develop collective bargaining for such sectors. Unless authors and

performers were paid fairly, TV licences must be fully funded

THE NEXT government was unanimously urged to reverse the ‘wrong-headed’ and ‘unfair’ decision that means the BBC must make most over-75s pay the TV licence fee from next June. Seconding the motion, Steve

Bird, NUJ executive member and FoC at the Financial Times, said it was about two issues: yet another welfare cut forced on the most vulnerable; and an attempt by the government to put extra political and financial pressure on the BBC.

The BBC has said it will continue

to grant TV licences for over-75s who provide evidence that they claim pension credit. However, research had found that more than three million households would lose their free TV licences. It was “very likely”

there was little hope of a vibrant, culturally diverse workforce representing the wider world, she said. NUJ members were often

told that, because they love their work, publicity was sufficient recompense. “Try telling your telephone provider that you will tweet your gratitude for their services and that good publicity is enough. TUC, we need you!” Proposing the motion, Rab

Noakes of the Musicians’ Union said no more than 20 per cent of his union’s members were full-time staff and freelance work was growing in all kinds of work and professions. “The trade union

movement needs to support gig workers,” he said.

that this number would include many of the one million who do not claim the benefits to which they are entitled, said Bird. The government refusal to fund

licences had forced the BBC to make the choice – cut staff, channels and programming or pass the burden on to pensioners.

Media exemplifies social divide as rich take jobs “

To secure jobs, the offspring of the monied classes can work for nothing, but most people cannot afford to do this

Christ Frost Journalism Lecturer

FEW THINGS in the world of work illustrate the gulf between ‘the haves’ and ’have nots’ as the media industry, NUJ ethics council chair Chris Frost told delegates. To secure jobs, the offspring of the monied classes could initially work for nothing as internees, but most people could not to afford to do so. Frost gave the example of

Eton-Oxbridge educated Boris Johnson who signed up as a graduate trainee at the Times thanks to family connections. He was later fired for making up quotes. Despite his ‘journalistic

crime’, he was subsequently

taken on by the Telegraph through university contacts. Frost said he had been a

newspaper journalist for more than 25 years before becoming a lecturer. He had watched with ‘growing disgust’ as more of his students were forced to take long periods of unpaid work to get a job, especially at prestige media outlets. He was speaking in favour of

a resolution calling for the International Labour Organisation to be given the power to investigate employers as well as governments. He urged it to address the issue of unpaid workers and interns in the media industry.

theJournalist | 7 “

Within the trade union movement, freelance work is seen as a last resort. This is not so for many of our members

Pennie Quinton Chair, London Freelance branch



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