EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs László Andor, said in yesterday's meeting with a delegation of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) that the cost-cutting policy in the media is undermining quality journalism.
Commissioner Andor agreed with the EFJ that, "There is a need to improve media workers' working conditions to counter this trend".
The EFJ, the regional organisation of the IFJ representing over 260.000 journalists in Europe, says that the working conditions of freelance journalists are particularly acute. "In Europe, the number of freelance journalists is growing rapidly but they are often in the forefront of the firing line in time of crisis," said Arne König, EFJ President.
"Freelance journalists become easy targets of labour exploitation because they do not have the equal labour rights protection as opposed to employed journalists," explained König, "And they are often left with a take-it-or-leave-it option by employers when it comes to negotiations of fees and authors' rights."
The delegation told Commissioner Andor that freelance journalists and their unions fear violating EU competition laws when it comes to negotiation of fees.
Commissioner Andor reassured the delegation that "workers' rights to collective bargaining enshrined in the (Article 28) EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and the Convention (No. 98, 1949) of the International Labour Organisation should not be overridden by EU competition law".
"One of the issues to be addressed in helping freelance journalists would be the current imbalance of the EU flexicurity policy, in which the workers' rights and their security must be strengthened, said Commissioner Andor."
"Other issues to be addressed will be to improve the social dialogue amongst social partners, and the unions' right to organise freelance workers" added Commissioner Andor, "And to carry out more studies about the situation of precarious workers' and their working conditions."
For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 26
The EFJ represents more than 250.000 members in over 30 countries