Independents Unite!

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Independents Unite!
Inside the Freelancers' Rights Movement
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Was bleibt von den Ideen und Idealen freier Arbeit, von Free Software und Freiem Wissen, wenn Menschen im Rennen gegen Maschinen, sowie Menschen im Rennen gegeneinander bestehen müssen? Wie kann Freiheit, Selbstbestimmung und Teilhabe heute noch gesichert werden? -- Wir stellen zwei Konzepte vor: Freelancer-Solidarität mit Joel Dullroy & das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen mit Matthias Spielkamp.
As the number of freelancers grows, so too does the urgency of creating a movement to improve their social, political and economic situation. Joel Dullroy is editor of the forthcoming e-book "Independents unite! Inside the freelancers' movement", which follows the different groups which are building this new social infrastructure by learning from recent political uprisings and using social media tactics.
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and here and
room in welcome back and
reconstruct this gonna be Duolingo presentation 1st English is in German that's why I'm switching to my English German version gives you a very broad as Germans that we talk english tool and I'm proud of a native english speaker 1st Ángel del Arroyo was presenting us a movement which is going to ask the question why instead of having individual problems having common solutions independence through my it's about the freelancer right movement joy them thank the so I use for be things in the 10 minutes I have to talk to you I'm going to introduce the freelancers rights movement and explain why it's happening the uh and and it is an inspiring examples from around the world and to end with a middle launch a new platform which is dedicated to pushing the movement for so 1st of all according to conference Dossal 1 3rd of the U of freelancers now and we all know that the Republic audience is a bit ahead of the trends but what we see an observer here generally does filter out to a wider audience so I'm gonna make a prediction and that is that just like the Republic of audience in the near future a significant proportion of the workforce will be freelancers and this is already happening so here's the numbers that illustrate that in the
EU we have 8 8 . 5 6 million freelancers which make up about 4 % of the workforce and in the US we noticed 16 . 9 million freelancers and that's roughly 10 per cent of the workforce now there are many people who think that these numbers are far too conservative because they don't include the people who work part-time as freelancers and there's some predictions that up to 40 % of the US workforce could be freelance by the year 2020 that's huge that's a major shift societies and individuals and we better be ready for the so to the average freelance working on the laptop in a crowded cafe or coworking space this situation might seem to be uh you know the accidental confluence of unstoppable factors but I'd like to argue that the rise of freelance the workforce is in fact you have 3 push and pull factors some of which are not in our control but the majority of these is these of factors are very much is not control and can be changed and improved so me step through the how we got here the 1st of courses technology we all know
that advances in technology have made it possible for us to work anywhere and we all do jobs now that in a knowledge based and can be done online rather than manufacturing and production but the technology is only part of the story it the the rise of
freelance work force that is actually a direct result of an idea logical projects to create a gray zone of employment activity which is outside the protections of labor laws and we can trace this back in uh to the election Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the seventies in the eighties and of course they were inspired by an ideology of individualism which was revealed in batches famous quote that there's no such thing as society so they set about destroying the power of the trade unions and dismantling any kind of of majority of the labor laws that protected people for for decades and we still live with legacy today how would in fact I argue that that we actually to be experiencing more Thatcherism today than they did in the eighties through the earth the reforms in European austerity programs so the other push
factor comes from the corporate world companies are desperate to find ways to reduce costs and to increase their profits and 1 of the biggest costs on any company's books is of course employment labor of personnel 6 is expensive to employ staff is not just the cost of actually employing the social costs associated and then the cost of office in them and equipping them the anything until recently did really have any choice if you're a company wanted to grow you just have to bear these costs but now thanks to the neoliberal reforms introduced by Thatcher and Reagan and they saw the explosion technology companies have an option they can go to the freelance work force and if you have any doubt about the intentionality of this is a quote that comes directly from the head of IBM's human capital management a man named Ting Ringo and he was talking about a plan that IBM has called working liquid where they can attend their work force of 400 thousand people into a small core staff of just 100 thousand who to be overseeing an army of external contractors who in a bid for each internal task and of course he said this is it is
building no building costs no pensions no health care costs and making huge savings so that kind of company structure could become the norm so that's how we got here technology ideology in corporate squeezing so this is a problem is a freelance ingrates you get to be your own boss you can work when and where you like and if you are highly skilled and clever you can actually up anymore as a freelancer then you can as an employee in some cases and and this is reflected in the surveys of of freelancers and shows that that they show over and over again that the vast majority of freelancers would not want to return to life as a regular employee but of course there are downsides to being a freelancer the you never know when next contracts going to come out you have to take care of your own pensions and health care costs you want pay for preparation time and you don't enjoy long fought for benefits benefits like sick pair holidays or parental leave as far as those decent pay raise a concern I challenge you to think of a future where almost half the work force of freelancers the the laws of supply and demand tells pretty clearly what's going to happen in those circumstances and we're already seeing this with the rows with rise of sites like 99 designs where you have to submit an entire finished portfolio without even knowing if you're ever gonna get the job the or task finding sites where the lowest bidder usually wins you see the fear is about to head into a holding employment market where each individual is at war with every other undercutting each other on price and living with you social benefits government's going to keep increasing that freelancing gray zone by reducing employment protections in cutting social benefits and because freelancers a disconnected individuals with no collective voice when are going to have any say in the shape of these policies now remember how I showed
you that the freelancing conditions today have actually come about through decisions made in the past will in the same way as the future freelancing can be helped shaped by freelancers today and made more positive with a little bit adhesion and some political pressure so that's the cues that talking
about the freelancers rights movement which is a social and political quest to protect and improve the conditions of freelancers everywhere so the idea is to try and make sure that the upside of freedom and flexibility and not outweighed by the downsides of high personal costs shrinking social safety nets and downward wage pressure so that the freelancers rights movement is not so much a single organization it's a loose coalition of different groups around the world and that there is like the the occupy movement than say a trade union with branches in different countries uh the groups of goal different outlooks and some of the outlooks actually uh idea logically they class a little bit but the groups are united in uniting freelancers and that is the 1st step to achieving anything so I wanna do now is take you a little tour of some of the active freelance action groups that do exist in the world we can see here map where we have active movements at the moment and we've got Germany the Netherlands the UK France Italy and the US so the European groups are all connected through a European-level meet up that every couple of months we get together and talk about what's going on those a me up in Berlin a few of them a few weeks ago that I attended we communicate with the with the US of a group to some extent as well so let's have a little tour of some of these active organizations will start right here in Germany
which is home to 1 of the youngest but parts of the movement it's called bonds degree in themselves stand again Deutschland which translates roughly to the association of founders and freelancers Germany and the the GST emerged in July last year in response to an a and an online campaign to fight against the plan by the German government who wanted to introduce a compulsory tax freelances for their retirement uh they they wanted to tax freelance 400 euros a month regardless of the income and this kind of flat tax wouldn't pretty much impossible for a lot of freelancers so like campaign was started and was in campaigning help from the coworking community it became quite successful some of you in this room probably took part and so on the online petition I was successful the German government eventually dropped that plan the but we can pretty pretty sure that plans to come back in some form or another in the near future so a permanent body was formed out of that campaign to keep up the fight and to be ready for whatever comes next so that's what the the the GST is but as a but a few key issues of again a fight for this year they want to make healthcare costs more affordable for freelancers and I wanna tackle the dreaded TV license tax which affects freelancers twice once as individuals and once as a business it's still a very young movement
there's only a couple hundred members um across Germany but it's very active in is growing and the whole meetups in different cities around Germany and the host of the Berlin meet up and we have an X 1 on May 22nd if you'd like to take part yeah all right let's go to the US the US is home to 1 of the most effective and the largest freelancers movements is called a freelancers union it was founded in New York in 2003 and and of course in the in the US 1 of the biggest issues is uh health care and health insurance the freelancers union actually created their own health insurance company and open their own clinics for their members to visit uh founder is very big on the idea of what she calls a new mutualism which is involves building community structures internally it also lost a few interesting and creative online campaigns
such as this 1 last year which is called the world's longest invoice where they were trying to basically calculate that the amount that the corporate world owes the freelancers of America and they got everybody to tally up all the unpaid invoices and they came up with a figure of almost 16 million dollars so that's aquatic credible campaign why sizes some official um structures those of some
some some you know real organizations have founded that in addition to the to the organization's is also a whole bunch of in unofficial campaigns that the run that China push the the topic of freelancers rights afforded this is 1 from the UK in the UK is a big problem with unpaid legal internships an unpaid internship is illegal in the UK but it still happens a lot so these 2 groups turn aware and the precarious work brigade they use social media to name and shame companies that use it illegally unpaid interns and have been very successful that actually have managed to get a few of these in interns back payment from the company's but through their campaigns is another informal online
I'm actually it's a really simple idea it's a blogger tumbled local who pays writers the and what they do is they encouraged writers to publish how much they earned what must be obtained by different publications and this is addressing a really fundamental imbalance in the whole freelance employment market and that is that the employers hold all the bargaining power because of freelancers often don't know how much they should be charging for their work so just by simple encouraging people to tell how much they will paid they get paid the trying to address this imbalance and we might see this kind of idea spread to other freelancing industries the all right so I've given you a bit of a
tour of the why and the how we got here and some of the actual active elements is a lot more but I really have time to go through them all but I'd like to give you my little glimpse of the future of the freelancers movement so I see the movement growing into an anarchic decentralized yet interconnected networks of different groups in campaigns around the world which are all dedicated to giving freelancers a voice and bringing them together it's going to use social media as as main form of communication and the campaigns it launches again whose with creativity because a creative people it's going tap into the skills of the freelance crowd because let's face it was someone most talented individuals out there and is also gonna make use of the existing network of coworking spaces which are going to become the physical nodes in the network of the freelancers uh movement OK so that in additionally select
and now by launching a new online platform is dedicated to pushing this movement forward it's called freelancers movement . org and it's an online news and information resource platform where where we're going to uh basically document the movement as it goes forward and uh and encourage along so uh as we can use this platform also to launch a new upcoming e-book which is called independence united inside the freelancers rights movement but is being written by myself and by my colleague Anna Cashman today this is an overview to the news in great work lately on this whole topic and we are and putting up any book out on this on basically what we've been talking about and expand on all these points and so if you wanna know more about uh the freelancers resolutely please had to that website states forms and and yeah hopefully we can see you taking part in the movement in the near future and so
with that I'm going to hand over now to Matisse who's going to tell us about and particular initiatives that perhaps a this is mimicking get behind so thank you very much
thank you