Freelance postmen, drivers and cleaners may get higher pay

Hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers – known as zzpers in Dutch – could get higher pay if the European Court agrees their low tariffs are undercutting regular staff.

The advocate general says in his recommendations to the court that union negotiations over pay and working conditions (cao) should include agreements on minimum tariffs for freelancers working in the care, construction, postal delivery and transport sector.

The case was brought before the European court by FNV Kiem, the union for people working in art, entertainment and media, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.

FNV Kiem said in 2007 it wanted a minimum tariff included in the pay deal for musicians who worked freelance as a replacement in an orchestra.

The Dutch competition authority NMa refused to allow this at the time because price agreements were not part of the agreement.


The advocate general agrees but says tariff agreements should be included where full-time workers’ pay is put under pressure by the low tariffs paid to freelancers.

He also supports his advice by saying that there is often no difference in the way in which freelancers and full-time workers do their jobs.

The Netherlands has 1.2 million freelancers but about 10% are bogus in that they have been sacked from their job and then employed as freelancer on a much lower tariff.

Good signal

Reacting to the news, social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said the advice is a ‘good signal’. ‘If the court accepts this conclusion, it will help me in my fight against bogus constructions.’

Meanwhile, the unions say they will fight hard in the new round of pay negotiations, the Telegraaf reports.

The FNV trade union group says it wants a wage increase of 3% in the form of €900 for each worker. This would ensure that workers on an income of below €30,000 a year would see an increase of above 3%.

However, according to an analysis by the Telegraaf, this would increase the difference in pay with freelancers, making it more attractive to employers to employ these low paid workers.



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