Statement on behalf of the IWW Creative Freelance Organising Committee
23rd August 2021
IWW member Jo from Glasgow was hired by The Summer House Weekend to do social media work on a regular project from 2018 until the pandemic struck. The employer, Tobias Slater, hired Jo to work for them repeatedly failed to pay Jo’s invoices in the early months of pandemic. Jo got in touch with the local IWW branch and after several attempts to get in-touch with Tobias Slater to recoup the stolen wages we were met with silence. The Creative Freelance Organising Committee and Jo have had no contact from The Summer House Weekend, their representatives or Tobias since.
Jo is owed a fee of £1790.54 for 3 months of work and The Summer House Weekend and Tobias Slater has since refused to pay the sum. We are demanding that Tobias Slater repay the amount in full at the earliest date possible.
The IWW Creative Freelance Organising Committee has been working with Jo to get the money back. Jo has this to say:
“It’s been really stressful. He’s lied to me. He told me in August 2020 that he’d pay me within a week. Since that last communication he hasn’t responded to any messages from myself or the IWW, and has effectively ignored all my requests. He’s ghosted me, and is completely impossible to get in touch with. It’s meant that when the pandemic hit I had no income to carry me over while I was applying for universal credit, and as a disabled person during a global pandemic it’s caused a lot of stress. I know he’s done it to other people, and having to constantly chase him up has only added to the stress.”
This is an extremely common issue for creative freelancers, and it’s why people in the industry are getting organised to fight back against the exploitation of bosses. Over 50% of freelancers have experienced some form of wage-theft in their careers.
“It’s such a huge problem in the freelancers industry, the industries keeps workers In the dark about their rights. For ages my friends said to talk to someone about it. I didn’t think I had any options through the IWW, but I got in touch with the Creative Freelancers Organising Committee in Clydeside IWW. I saw that there were options to get back my stolen wages.”
Jo also wants people to know that “when you have wages stolen from you’re not the one at fault, it’s the employers. It’s a form of theft when they do that. It’s really important to be organised where you can get advice, support and encouragement to take action on this.”
Jo and other freelancers need your help, if you feel that wage-theft is too common in the freelancer industry help us spread the message and get other workers gets organised. You can help by sharing this article around, start having conversations with other people in the industry about conditions and join in at our next monthly meetings. The IWW Creative Freelancers Organising Committee based in the IWW Clydeside Branch has a workshop on how to secure better conditions in your dealings with bosses on the 7th of September 2021 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. Please contact the clydeside.organising [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk email for further details.
A spokesperson from the IWW Clydeside Freelancers Creative Organising Committee has this to say:
“Commissioners and bosses often take advantage of the fragmented nature of freelance work, where the creative freelancer has a reputation to maintain and is in constant competition for work with other freelancers. This model leaves freelance workers feeling isolated and powerless, and leads to immense amounts of open-faced theft and withdrawal of payment for work that has been done, the likes and enormity of which would be unacceptable and outrageous in a conventional workplace.
These bosses and commissioners feel emboldened by the lack of accountability offered by dealing with a single, isolated worker, and take full advantage of this situation. Creative freelancers will continue being stolen from unless we create a network that allows us to wield power against employers and share knowledge that can not only allow us to demand for better working conditions and ensure due payment for our labour, but also stop the down-levelling of global pay engendered by employers taking advantage of young freelancers through significantly underpaid or free work.
IWW Clydeside’s Frealance Creatives Organising Committee is working to develop initiatives for education on your rights as a freelance worker, help you escalate demands in case of non-payment, and lift knowledge of bad employers and practices out of secrecy and in-groups and into public access. Some of our goals include ending the culture of isolation that drives all of our wages down and helping fellow workers secure the wages that they were promised for their honest work. Only through organising can we achieve this — if you need help, feel like you can help, or want to join our fight, get in contact.”
Employers generate a culture of silence around issues such as working conditions, pay and treatment of staff in the freelance sectors.
If this sounds familiar get in contact. Groups like the IWWs Creative Freelancer Organising Committee (contact clydeside.organising [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk for more info) are getting organised to fight back against these conditions.