Late pay, no holidays: how Filipino freelancers are fighting back

Late pay, no holidays: how Filipino freelancers are fighting back

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Freelance workers everywhere complain about the difficulties they experience with insufficient pay or non-payment A movement taking place in the Philippines is trying to change this with the potential introduction of a self-employment bill For Jilson Tiu, a Filipino photojournalist, working in photography is no piece of cake. It requires hard work and patience, especially for those times when projects are hard to come by. Photo: Maro Enriquez Wandering into an alleyway in Manila, Filipino photojournalist Jilson Tiu has arrived just in time for , a game where children break a hanging clay pot filled with confectionery. Not wanting to miss a moment, he positions himself and begins shooting. After the pot breaks, he resumes his tour, looking for other interesting scenes of life in the city to capture. Tiu, 27, says he loves his work, but admits it is no piece of cake. “Being a photographer sounds great, but people don’t really realise that you can work up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes, there’s no client at all; it’s a dry month, a dry year. So you wait and hope for the best,” he says. Blindfolded children enjoy taking turns in hitting a clay pot which is filled with confectionery. Photo: Maro Enriquez In some cases, Tiu says, clients simply refuse to pay up. In one instance, a leading Philippine daily newspaper hired him for an advertising shoot, to be published in print and online, offering 15,000 pesos (US$288) for the job. More than a year later, and despite repeated attempts to secure payment, the publication has failed to cough up, he says. Tiu adds that because he did not obtain a formal written contract from the publication for his work, he has little recourse through the law. “What can I do? I can’t sue them,” he says. The future of work: temporary jobs filled by freelancers as permanent contracts fade It’s a situation freelancers everywhere may be able to sympathise with. Now, campaigners in the Philippines are hoping a new Senate bill could give freelancers the sort of protections that full-time workers receive. After a series of setbacks this year, the Freelancers Protection Act (Senate Bill 351) could, if passed into law, help establish rights for self-employed Filipinos. A study by payment platform PayPal found that there were at least 1.5 million freelancers working in the Philippines in 2018. They are working in jobs as diverse as data entry, internet research and customer support. Yet despite this, the government has no official definition of what a freelancer is, says Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines. “What we have is a concept – [that being] that the work doesn’t happen in a formal workplace setting. So any work outside this definition is what we call freelancing,” Tanjusay explains. “According to the labour code, an ‘employee-employer’ relationship must be strongly established in order for employees to get compensation.” Alan Tanjusay, national spokesperson of the Associated Labor Union-Trade […]

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