EU Freelancers call for better working conditions

Friday 26 September 2014

A movement is running in the European Union (EU) that is calling for better working conditions for self employed professionals, limited companies, sole traders and other types of freelancers.

The European Freelancers' Movement has already gathered 7,000 signatures and, on September 25th 2014, it went to the European Parliament to deliver a manifesto that calls for more support for freelancers.

Workers from 29 European countries joined the online campaign to call for changes in policies that affect those that work independently. The campaign is located at www.freelancers-europe.org.

It is an initiative that is led by the European Forum of Independent Professionals (EFIP), which is a partnership of associations of freelancers and self employed professionals across Europe and represents more than nine million independent professionals from both the private and public sectors. Among the groups involved are The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).

Campaign manager of the European Freelancers' Movement Joel Dullroy said: "Freelancers and self-employed workers are a large and growing part of the European workforce, but we are ignored and isolated.

"We are going to Brussels to tell policy-makers that we should be taken seriously."

Money to support the campaign was gained through crowdfunding, which gained donations from hundreds of individuals.

As part of the manifesto, the campaign calls for a handful of key demands to be implemented. One of these is intended to get EU authorities to legally recognise freelancers and their rights, pointing out that this segment is the fastest growing one within the European labour market, economy and society.

Following this, the manifesto requests that freelancers gain access to business support services, public procurement contracts, training programmes and funding, all of which they are often unable to obtain.

It also calls for better statistics to be gathered, particularly as official data concerning freelancers tends to be mixed in with that of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Additionally, Freelancers' organisations are calling for governments to ask for their input when a policy is being considered that could have an impact on them.

Lastly, it says that businesses should be made to treat freelancers fairly, encourage better contracts and working conditions.

The concerns of freelancers and the Manifesto was well received by some members of the European Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said: "Too often, the concerns of self-employed and freelance workers in Europe are not taken into account when important decisions are made. I am calling on the European Commission and national governments to make sure that self-employed workers are properly consulted and are able to fully participate in the relevant EU programmes and funding streams."

She also reminded of the Liberal belief that government should give individuals more power to fulfill their potential and that this principle should help to drive the work that the Commission does when the new one comes in.

The Commissioners' Hearings are coming up soon, which will see the formation of a new European Commission.

After the delivery of the manifesto, freelancers will be keeping an eye on whether or not member states follow the demands included.


By Victoria McDonnell

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