Unions reach out to the self-employed


A new ETUC report titled, trade union protecting self-employed workers, sets out the problems facing this growing section of Europe’s workforce. This initiative explores why self-employed workers need better rights

self employed

What are unions doing for this growing section of Europe’s workers and what are unions and workers priorities for the future? The study states that 22 million European workers are now self-employed representing 10 per cent of the workforce. Approximately 13 per cent of the self-employed work in professional and technical areas, with there being a significant increase in professional services.

Eurocadres has noted that the trend towards greater levels of self-employment, among professionals and managers. Martin Jefflén, President of Eurocadres says; ‘The ETUC findings echoes our own understandings, we are seeing more professionals facing the often precarious status of self-employed, in many cases without necessarily choosing this working condition. As the ETUC report notes, self-employed workers often have far fewer rights than employees.’

Self-employed workers often have far fewer rights than employees

The ETUC found that, ‘in some countries [the self-employed] have no right to join a trade union and to benefit from union protection and support’. According to the trade union confederation: ‘In almost all European countries, self-employed workers lack adequate social protection. Rights to protections like sick leave, unemployment benefits or parental/maternity leave often depend on the self-employed making additional contributions.’

Trade unions are striving to better represent self-employed workers

Trade unions are striving to better represent self-employed workers through occupational unions, which cover groups such as journalists, technicians, translators, interpreters, architects and some medical professions. Through self-employed unions, which only cover the self-employed and in mainstream unions which are responding to changes in the labour market by extending their coverage to the self-employed.

Download the ETUC report 'Trade Unions protecting self-employed workers here