Freelancing is increasingly common. In my research, I write about the precariouness of entrepreneurial and freelance work so I was very interested to see this post on the Islington Hub’s blog. The article is writen by Enda Brophy (Simon Fraser University), Nicole Cohen (University of Toronto), and Greig de Peuter (Wilfrid Laurier University), researchers working on a project called Cultural Workers Organize, and describes an event called “Freelancers Unite! What rights are we fighting for?”
Taking inspiration from recent efforts in Berlin to ignite a freelancers’ movement, this event was part of the space’s “50 Days of Freelancing” series. Speakers gave a big-picture view of the spread of independent work and zeroed in on the flipside of making a living in a flexible labour economy. Among concerns that participants shared were clients who don’t pay, pressure to do work for free (or almost free), and uncertain access to contracts following maternity leave. One of the things that the “Freelancers Unite!” event demonstrated is that coworking spaces are promising places for gathering members of a workforce whose trademark dispersal can make it tricky to reflect—and act—on livelihood issues collectively.
Despite the challenges in freelancing, the authors are positive about the oppportunities individuals have through co-working and developing aletrnative models of work. There is a lot of inspirational literature about how individuals can develop coping mechanisms for a better work/life balance but they are not always feasible in a real world context. Joint action and collaborative initiatives have the potential to address some serious issues such as social protections and income security. At this stage, just raising awareness amongst freelancers and cultural entrepreneurs would be a good start!