Bargaining Victory Ends Six-month Battle for Freelance Union Rights in Denmark

Only days after a Danish labour court granted freelance journalists the right to be represented by their union in bargaining arrangements a landmark collective agreement has been reached with one of the country’s major publishers.

The International Federation of Journalists today welcomed the signing of an agreement between the Danish Journalists’ Union and Aller Press, which controls 80 per cent of the Danish magazine market, ending a six-month struggle to establish the right of freelancers to be represented like employed staff in negotiations. One key point of the deal is agreement protecting authors rights' of freelance journalists at the company.

“This is a great way to end a highly successful week for journalists’ unions in the region,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, referring to yesterday’s agreement in Sweden that established a new three-year contract for thousands of newspaper journalists. “Danish colleagues have scored a major victory for the rights of freelance journalists.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, president of the Danish Union of Journalists and a member of the IFJ Executive Committee, said: "The result is a milestone. This is a real collective agreement with perspectives, which enshrines the rights of shop stewards and applies the same labour rights for freelancers as we see in collective agreements for employed journalists."

He said that Danish freelancers had shown “tremendous solidarity” over six months and were ready to impose a boycott across Aller Press operations from next Monday, action that is now likely to be called off unless there is a surprising “No” vote from freelancers who are now voting on the agreement. The union is urging acceptance.

Last week the union won a crucial labour court case which upheld the right of freelances to be included in union negotiations with Aller Press. Following the verdict the company and union opened fresh negotiations which led to today’s breakthrough.

“The threat of a freelance boycott combined with a very clear victory in the labour court were very important for the negotiations,” said Blicher Bjerregård. “The talks with Aller Press have been constructive and held in a good atmosphere.”

The importance of the agreement, which for the first time enshrines rights for freelance journalists in a major collective agreement could have important implications for freelances elsewhere in Europe, says the IFJ. “Journalists’ unions will be studying the events in Denmark very carefully. It is sure to inspire new actions in other countries where freelance rights are being denied,” said White.

Further information: + 32 478258 669 or in Denmark, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård (President) +45 27 25 80 30, or Anne Louise Schelin (Legal Consultant +45 27 25 80 32