As traditional workers across Europe enjoy their annual day of rest, one large and growing sector of society will remain on the job. Freelancers will stay glued to their laptops, finishing projects for companies that aren’t obliged to give their flexible staff a day off on May Day, or any other scheduled holiday.
This May Day, a new campaign is encouraging freelancers to use the traditional workers’ holiday – held on May 1 in most European countries and May 5 in the United Kingdom – to take action to improve their conditions.
The recently-launched European Freelancers’ Movement wants independent workers to sign a five-point manifesto that calls for better recognition, access to services, and fairer treatment by governments and businesses.
“May Day is no holiday for freelancers, but it is a chance for them to make their voice heard by joining our movement,” said Joel Dullroy, a co-ordinator of the European Freelancers’ Movement.
The campaign, found at http://freelancers-europe.org, has been set up by a coalition of organizations, networks and individuals striving to change the political landscape in favour of freelancers.
“There are more than nine million freelancers across Europe today, and we’re no longer an ignorable minority. We have specific needs and concerns, and governments will have to start taking us seriously,” Mr. Dullroy said.
The campaign’s manifesto, which will be presented to the European Parliament after the forthcoming election, carries five demands.
It asks EU authorities to recognise freelancers as a legitimate employment and business category.
Once recognised, the manifesto demands freelancers be given access to government services and funding, from which they are often excluded.
Better statistics are a key demand, as official data about freelancers are unreliable.
Freelancers’ organizations are requesting to be consulted by governments when drafting policy.
And finally, businesses are targeted with a demand to treat freelancers fairly, with better contracts and condition.
“These simple requests are the most basic first steps politicians can take to improving conditions for independent workers,” Mr. Dullroy said.