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Self-employed workers need more bargaining power

Helsinki (22.11.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) A trade union movement working party called Itset has published a list of goals to improve the situation of self-employed workers.

Finland will have parliamentary elections in April 2019. Many unions, NGO’s and other interest groups are now drafting and publishing their wish-lists which they want to see included in the next Government Programme following the elections.

Itset is a working party composed of all three trade union confederations SAK, STTK and Akava, several of their member unions and the Union of Journalists in Finland.

Trade unions must be able to represent the self-employed in negotiations concerning pay and conditions – this is Itset’s fundamental and most important demand. European competition legislation provides no obstacle, the group believes, as in the case of Germany where the unions are in a position to make such deals on the basis of the Copyright Act.

It is not enough to make a new interpretation of the EU competition legislation, we need an amendment to the law that includes self-employed workers as a part of the labour market with a right to collective negotiations, the Itset group says.

Those self-employed people who are economically dependent on their employers should be seen as employed, the group stresses. The existing legal definition of employment is too narrow and leads to a situation where a growing number of people are excluded from social security as their form of work is not seen as employment.

The Itset group is also calling for the unreserved right to full social security for self-employed workers. This would be possible mainly by defining employment in a way that is more in line with the current labour market than by the existing narrow definitions.

Additionally, equal opportunity with regard to occupational health care for the self-employed must be guaranteed, the group says.

Many self-employed people are working in the creative professions where authors’ rights are crucial. The Copyright Act must guarantee fair compensation and contracts for the authors, which it does not do now, Itset group says.

Surrendering all economic authors’ rights and even secondary rights is now too often a precondition for getting any work in many creative jobs. This should not be the case.