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Dublin does it right

FREELANCES in Ireland have been promised the right to negotiate collectively. That means that the NUJ in Ireland will have the right to make deals with publishers and broadcasters setting out the minimum terms they will offer members. It will also be legal once more to produce an Irish Freelance Fees Guide.

The commitment from the Irish government to introduce a Bill next year forms part of its national "partnership agreement" with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, finalised in Dublin in early October.

Unions' right to negotiate basic terms for freelances has been under threat throughout Europe over the past few years. Publishers and broadcasters have invoked "competition" law to claim that if freelances were allowed to get together to recommend prices and conditions we would be acting as a cartel and the capitalist sky would fall. (The current sky-falling is notably not our fault, as it turns out.)

In the UK, most creators' organisations that offered lists of suggested rates - excepting the NUJ - have in the past few years been warned off by the competition authorities. The Irish move is a step to rectify the results of a court ruling that freelance workers in general must not make such suggestions.

It makes provision for a six per cent pay increase in two phases.

It also promises a new law outlawing victimisation on the grounds of trade union membership. The latter is based the European Court of Justice judgement that London NUJ activist Dave Wilson had been victimised by the Daily Mail. Now we just have to make sure the promised Bill gets through the Irish parliament, the Dáil, unmolested - and work on introducing a similar change to UK law.

Freelances throughout Europe are reminded that they can view - and submit - the actual Rates for the Job journalists are getting at This includes the Rate for the Job in Euros and is completely legal.

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