A Stake In The Future

Within the next few weeks, I get to vote on the latest national pay deal, Towards 2016.

The first paragraph speaks of ‘a dynamic, internationalised and participatory Irish society and economy, founded on a commitment to social justice and economic development that is both environmentally sustainable and internationally competitive’.

Behind the lofty ideals is a pay agreement: a six percent pay rise over twentyone months.

Now ICTU worries that workers will use the pay deal as a referendum on the Budget.

Normally, pay agreements don’t affect me, but this one has a clause affecting freelances.

For years, the NUJ negotiated going rates for freelances.

Then the Competition Authority decided freelances should be treated like private companies.

The result: NUJ agreements were redefined as cartels.

Similar rulings covering actors and musicians caused chaos. Draw up a budget for a theatre or film production, and you risk going to court for price-fixing.

The latest agreement tackles the over-enthusiastic interpretation of the law by the competition authority.

A new law will ‘exclude voice-over actors, freelance journalists and session musicians’ from the Competition Act, with an escape clause about ‘consistency with EU competition rules’.

What do you know, I got a stake this time.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.