Unions posb. for thousands of Dutch freelancers

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If it is up to Europe, trade unions in collective agreements may agree on minimum rates for independent retailers, giving hope to the tens of thousands of underpaid freelancers. 

This is evident from the Advocate-General's advice submitted to the European Court of Justice. Typically such advice is a good indication of the court's ruling.

The case is pending before FNV Kiem, a trade union for workers in the arts, entertainment and media. In 2007 Kiem wanted to agree on minimum rates for musicians who stand in as freelancers in orchestras. The Dutch Competition Authority (now the Consumer and Market Authority) forbade this because no price agreements can be made.

The Advocate-General agrees with this, but according to him, it is different when employees' interests are damaged and their wages come under pressure by cheaper freelancers. For example, in construction and home care employees are dismissed and freelancers are hired who can do the same work at lower rates.

Employers Association AWVN is, according to a spokesperson, "not yet shocked" by the advice. "We are waiting to see if the European Court takes the advice." Bouwend Nederland, the employers organization in construction, will first study this complex issue before coming up with a response.

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