NUMEROUS examples of freelance journalists being told their services are no longer required – because of the economic downturn, but despite long service, often on a near full-time basis – have partly prompted the National Union of Journalists to mount a campaign on behalf on their behalf.
Pledging a month of ‘concentrated campaigning that puts the spotlight on the issues facing freelance workers’, the union will be calling on the British and Irish governments to improve legal protection for casual and self-employed people – and asking other unions to join in the fight.
Says John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser: “The way the UK Government currently defines a ‘worker’ means that many people are effectively working full-time for companies but without any of the employment protection granted to employees.
“I know of a reporter who worked for 18 months for a newspaper, doing between five and ten shifts per week.
“One night he was approached and told: ‘We won’t be needing you any more after tonight.’
“His entire source of income was cut off at a stroke.
“A columnist received 90 per cent of her income from a weekly column in a national newspaper.
“After 12 years of working for the same company, she received an email to say she would be paid for two columns she had already filed but there would be no more commissions.”