The ‘Fighting for Freelances’ seminar is being organised jointly by SIPTU, the the National Union of Journalists, the Musicians Union of Ireland and Irish Equity.
SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “Fighting for Freelances is being held on the first anniversary of legislation which ended the ban on trade unions representing freelance workers. For almost two decades, trade unions were prevented from collectively representing freelance workers on the basis that the Competition Authority had viewed them as self-employed workers. That law was changed as a result of a joint SIPTU and NUJ campaigned backed by the ICTU.”
She added: “James Connolly was not only one of the founders of the modern trade union movement in Ireland and a leader of the 1916 Rising, he was also a journalist, playwright and historian. Along with his colleagues, which included the actors Helena Moloney and Sean Connolly, James Connolly believed trade unionism had to focus on organising and fighting for better rights for precarious workers and those in all forms of employment relationship.
“This wish to make trade unionism relevant to all workers was a key aim of Connolly. It is very fitting that his memory is marked by discussions on how trade unions can ensure they are relevant for workers in the arts and media sectors into the future.”
Keynote speakers at the seminar will include the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Micheál Mac Donncha, SIPTU General Secretary Designate, Joe Cunningham and Prof Michael Doherty who heads the Department of Law, Maynooth University. NUJ activist in RTÉ Bláthnaid Ni Chofaigh will chair a panel discussion on the challenges facing freelance workers including Conor Mullen of Irish Equity, Niamh Parsons of the MUI, Karan Casey of Fairplay/MUI, and Colin Murphy and Bernie Ní Fhlatharta of the NUJ.
NUJ Irish Secretary, Séamus Dooley, said: “This seminar will celebrate the contribution of freelance workers, who make a huge contribution to the Irish media and arts sectors. That contribution is frequently overlooked and freelance workers are shamefully treated by many media organisations.
“Behind terms such as ‘atypical worker’ or ‘precarious employment’ are many workers who struggle to survive. Our joint union campaign will highlight the plight of freelance workers and will focus on the need to organise freelance workers so that they are properly remunerated and treated with dignity and respect.”