Photojournalist strike in the Netherlands

Photo by Harmen de Jong/NVJ

Photo by Harmen de Jong/NVJ

Dutch freelancer photojournalists prepare for strike to protect their livelyhood from inflation, decrease of their tariffs and infringements of their copyrights. Of course it is an interesting question what a strike of photographers can achieve and how readers and publishing houses react to such actions…

Website of European Federation of Journalists riports their Dutch member organisation Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ) announced on 9th january their photojournalist section NVF starts a strike sztrájkba kezd a in protection of their salaries. The organisation contacted Netherlands’ six biggest media companies to start talks with them. In the meantime they proposed a strike on 25th January if the talks won’t succeed by 11th January. They already have more than 200 Dutch photojournalists supporting the union’s action.

A nation wide survey shows Dutch freelance photographer salaries Egy országos felmérés fell from €80 in 2014 to €42, but some publications only pay €15-20 per picture. NVJ and NVF demand a 14% salary increase to compensate inflation since 2010. They also demand online photo prices to match print photo prices and publishing houses to honour copyright laws.

European Federation of Journalists EFJ also stands by the Dutch colleagues. President Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard writes “This action shows us the way to build concrete solidarity between staff and freelance journalists. We fully support the photojournalists in the Netherlands and the union’s campaign fighting to improve the professional working conditions and build trust and respect between professional and the broader public opinion. We are also calling every photojournalist in Europe to express online support with the Dutch colleagues, their fight is our fight”

British National Union of Journalists chair of Photographers’ Council Natasha Hirst writes “Such coordinated action amongst freelance photojournalists is extremely significant and we applaud our Dutch colleagues for their campaign. Photographers in the UK face similar threats to their livelihoods as rates of pay decrease whilst copyright infringements and use of unpaid amateur photography are an ever-present intrusion. The ongoing battle with stock agency Alamy over their cuts to commission serves as just one example of the challenges our members face. Photojournalists are highly skilled and should be paid fairly for their work. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in the Netherlands and will be watching developments closely.”

General Secretary of the NVJ/NVF, Rosa García López said “So far, more than 200 freelance photo-journalists have said they are prepared to stop work on 25 January. That is almost unprecedented in the history of self-employment. Freelancers act as individuals, but they are now prepared to join forces because the need is so great. The photo-journalist profession deserves tariffs that can sustain it into the future. We have announced a series of actions and we could use all the support we can get from our overseas colleagues.If we don’t stand firm now and act with all our Dutch union members this could mean the end of photo-journalism. Unless we do, our clients will simply realise that we are not prepare to act in a united manner. Therefore, it is now or never because the only pressagency in the Netherlands – ANP – threats to cut rates with 50% and six media organizations pay extremely low online rates (as well in print) while they have anounced that within five years they will go online (print will disapear)! Online rates of 15 Euro for a photoshoot are onacceptable. Photojournalism is not a hobby ”

I think the Dutch initiative sets an example for the photography world and may even be a media historic event talán. It is important to have Hungarian photographers (me among them of corse) join in support. However it is an interesting question how and what we can do to help our Dutch colleagues achieve their goals.
It is also an interesting question what can such a strike achieve and what reaction it provokes from publishing houses already downscaling their photo departments worldwide.  What pressure such a strike can mean for publishing houses while not only Hungary’s state news agency MTI, but Getty Images and Reuters too moving into the free models and also heavily cutting budgets and jobs too.

Meantime Hungary’s photojournalism prices havent changed in 10 years and there is no change in this regards since Hungary’s biggest journalist association MUOSZ was fined by the authorities for their suggested photo price offer sheet.

What do you think about this strike of Dutch freelancers?

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