…increasing numbers of workers are not covered by collective agreements…

Apart from being a bit of a mouthful, the European Audiovisual Sector Social Dialogue Committee is an organization including representatives of worker and employer bodies in the arts, entertainment and media industries within the EU. The unions involved are the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Union Network International Media – Entertainment and Arts (UNI-MEI), the International Federation of Actors (FIA) and the International Federation of Musicians (FIM). Because of the nature of employment in their industries, with a high proportion of freelance and other self-employed and atypical workers, the Social Dialogue Committee has become something of a trailblazer in work on non-standard forms of employment, which is a major concern for the global union movement.

As part of their bi-annual work programme, in 2014 the members of the committee agreed to join a European project to study the labour market within the audiovisual  (AV) sector across several EU countries, focussing on changing forms of employment and work arrangements.

The study was completed in July 2016. It is the first piece of work at EU level to examine data on the changing AV labour market in the EU as a whole and, in greater detail, in ten selected EU countries.

The final study includes two distinct parts:

  1. An in-depth report on the AV labour market and its changing nature in ten selected EU countries (the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom).
  2. A European level report, analysing continental data and making cross-country comparisons of AV labour markets. The report focuses on the following major topics:
  • the main businesses operating in the AV sector in Europe and employment trends
  • the evolution of employment relationships in the AV sector in Europe
  • comparative contractual arrangements in the AV sector within different countries
  • the impact of changes in employment and working arrangements on access to life-long learning and new skills requirements
  • the impact of changes in employment and working arrangements on the density of trade union and employers’ organisations and on the scope of collective agreements.

The study enables an informed social dialogue between social partners (specifically,  organizations representing workers, employers and national and transnational authorities). It will allow them to formulate possible joint actions, in particular relating to current inadequacies of available data and analysis on issues related to AV labour markets. It will also help them to tackle the issue of developing employment and work arrangements in the AV sector and the challenges they pose to workers, unions, employers, and industrial relations.

Some key findings from the study include the following:

  1. The EU’s official statistics service, Eurostat, defines the AV sector in line with the NACE classification (“Nomenclature statistique des Activités économiques dans la Communauté Européenne”). However, this classification is inadequate for capturing the complexity of the AV sector in national contexts. In general, data are not comparable between countries or with European statistics which makes it difficult to provide an accurate and complete picture of the sector across Europe. This finding echoes the view expressed in the report “Mapping Changes in Employment in the Journalism and Media Industries” (31 August, 2012): “Eurostat itself tends to aggregate certain activities according to the NACE sectoral classification adopted by the EU, which does not correspond to the UK’s SIC or the UN’s ISIC ‘standard industrial classification’ systems with any degree of exactitude.”
  2. The AV sector in Europe is growing in many countries (for example, France, Italy and the UK). The sector is often characterised by micro and small businesses (mainly involved in production work). Between 2008 to 2012, the number of active AV enterprises across Europe increased by 22 percent (to almost 100,000 companies), driven mainly by growth in media production.
  3. The number of workers in the sector increased from an estimated 739,000 in 2008 to 811,000 in 2013. In 2014, a total of 118,886 workers were employed in the public service media, with a slight decreasing trend from 2012.
  4. In 2013, 61 percent of workers in the European AV sector were men. The sector experienced a decline in female employment between 2008 and 2013, which is likely to be a direct effect of the economic turndown. The same is true for youth employment. In 2013, 59 percent of workers in the AV sector were aged between 25 and 44, which represents a decline since 2008, probably because of the disproportionate effect of recession on younger people.
  5. There is evidence of increasing trends in the past few years towards even more atypical employment relations and self-employment in the AV sector. In 2013, 78 percent of workers in the AV sector were employed and 22 percent were self-employed, compared with 15 percent of self-employed in the whole European economy. Available data clearly points to employment being increasingly characterised by other forms of atypical contractual arrangements as well as conventional self-employment.
  6. In general, self-employed and atypical workers in the AV sector do not have easy access to paid lifelong professional training schemes, given the nature of their contractual arrangements.
  7. The rise in numbers of self-employed and atypical workers leads to a situation where increasing numbers of workers are not covered by collective agreements.

Elsewhere, the unions participating in the Social Dialogue Committee — the EFJ, UNI-MEI, FIA and FIM – have published a handbook, The Future of Work in the Arts, Media & Entertainment Sector,  outlining conclusions and recommendations addressing atypical work in the media, arts and entertainment sector.

Esther Lynch, Confederal Secretary at ETUC, spoke at the launch of the handbook. She noted that “atypical work and the associated challenges identified in the media, arts and entertainment sector are undoubtedly becoming increasingly prevalent across the wider labour market, also with the rise of digital platforms and the collaborative economy. Workers need greater protection and the proposed European Pillar of Social Rights currently being drafted by the EU Commission should include a right to effective enforcement of employment rights.”


 More details

This article is based on an original report on the UNI website: “Analysis of the EU Audiovisual Sector Labour Market and of changing forms of employment and work arrangements.” 21 October, 2016.

Download the labour market analysis in English or French and the country reports (in English) (2016).

Download the executive summary of the labour market analysis in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish (2016).

Download the EFJ/UNI-MEI report on “Mapping changes in the journalism and media industry” (2012).

Read latest result from research project on “crowdworking” in Europe, conducted by the University of Hertfordshire and Ipsos Mori, in cooperation with AK Wien, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and UNI Europa. September 2016.  “Austrian study shows that gig economy is on the rise throughout Europe.

Download the Gig Economy Report Austria (2016).

Read the report on the new EFJ, UNI-MEI, FIA and FIM handbook: “Meeting the challenge of atypical working“.  9 September, 2016.

Download the handbook on ‘The Future of Work in the Arts, Media & Entertainment Sector’ (2016).


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Gary Herman

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