Work for local papers ‘as important as the nationals’ - Dutch court to be told

TWO DUTCH freelance journalists - writer Britt van Uem and photographer Ruud Rogier - have taken their former client, regional news publisher Persgroep ("Press Group") to court in Amsterdam over their €15-an-hour fees.

The plaintiffs, supported by the NUJ's sister union the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ), demand they receive a higher rate equivalent to those paid by national newspapers.

In the first case of its kind, they argue that their work for the locals has the same "importance to society" as work for national newspapers. Their contractual arrangements with Persgroep are complicated by a licence that now gives Persgroep rights to the resale of photos for the first week after publication.

Britt and Ruud say it is in practical terms not possible to negotiate with Persgroep, which has an effective monopoly. The submission notes that Persgroep's most recent annual profit was 15 per cent, or €126 million - while they made 13 cents a word or €42 per photo.

Their case is based on the Auteurscontractenwet (Authors' Contracts Act), which states that remuneration for a commission must be "fair" and if necessary a judge can determine what is fair. Belgian journalists in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders are also watching the case with interest, as Persgroep is a big player there as well. The judgement is expected on 17 May.

  • This article was updated on 03/06/19 to correct a figure that was given as per hour instead of the correct per photo - thanks to Paul Todd for pointing out the mistake.