Conclusions of the subjects 2009

Theme 2009: The challenges from a normal job situation into fexicurity towards (self)employment

SOCIAL DIALOGUE ABOUT: From a normal workers situation via FLEXICURITY into (semi) SELFEMPLOYMENT.
Seminar 2009
Organised by the CNV KUNSTENBOND, with participation of cultural trade-unions around Europe.
Location: SBI/Zonneheuvel in Doorn, the Netherlands
August 1 – August 6,
CA (CNV-KUNSTENBOND) EZA/EU SEMINAR (Aug.1-6,2009); the 29th European seminar for the sector arts & culture. Appr. 250 participants (including scientists, teachers, professional artists, cultural workers) from 20 nations were present to discuss and study the theme.

SOCIAL DIALOGUE ABOUT: From a normal workerssituation via FLEXICURITY into (semi) SELF EMPLOYMENT. Does it bring improvement or will this increase unhealthy and unsocial situations and makes LIFE LONG LEARNING impossible for this new workforce?

This subject is of great importance because in the new economy a fast growing number are self employed/flexworkers,who depend on work-suppliers. The Governement of The Netherlands published a report nov.2008 stating that already 1 million workers (in the Netherlands) are in the ‘selfemployed’ sector. Good work conditions are easily forgotten, with sad consequencies. So what will be the implications for healthy work, education, life long learning, mobility, youth, minorities, etc.? Trade unions have to overcome the traditional borders of their services and participate in this new economic reality with a flexible workforce. Such workers may sometimes depend on even 100 workgivers in a year.

N.B. The trade-unions have neglected these workers for a while, but according national and European reports these workersgroups are the fastests growing sector.Today in a growing number of nations the trade-unions are starting to organize these workers and providing a lot of help, and that is very much needed. Most selfemployed never choose to be in such position. The liberal market view allowed many employers (ranging now from every sector of industry, culture, hospitals and governmental work) to hire workers without employees-contracts. So such ’non-employees’ now have to arrange everything themselves (taxes, social-security, pension-plan, insurances, healthcare, etc).It gives to the employers a great flexability and less burdens, but on these flex-employee’s side(called self-employed) the burden is immense and needed aspects for safety, health, insurances, pensions are easily forgotten.

  1. Aug.2 - SAFE work & the selfemployed/flexworker Dr.Silviu Ispas (Ifes, Cluj-Napoca) Romania
    How do we deal with basic situations like safety and health? Every 3,5 minute a person dies in the EU because of work situations(!) There is an alarming rate of problems in the cultural sector, because many workers are self-employed and do not think about these important issues, e.g. timestress, pressure of workgivers, budget cuts, how to survive the stress and being able to have any social life (e.g. raising a family). Can the impossible been made possible. Analyses and paths for directions for anybody: work safe at all times! So think and ask, because it is all about YOU! So do your own risk management! Testimonials were shared and interesting Napo cartoon films underlined the message.
  2. Aug.3 - What does it mean to be selfemployed (In dutch ZZP) c.q flexworker?. Prof.Dr.M.Verkerk (University of Maastricht), Netherlands
    Why are those workers not employers. Why the trade-unions have to take care for the self-employed (including all the artists). The blessings of being selfemployed and the dangers. Think about yourself as‚ corporation ME’. Understand the possibilities and dangers of the NETWORK SOCIETY. Measures to take by yourself as you live now in a PERSONAL RISK SOCIETY. Time pressure of workgivers is leading to unsafe, unhealthy and unsocial conditions. How is that in the cultural sector? Too much flexability is bad for creativity. A whole society all based on selfemployed persons, who all organise their contracts, liability, insurances, pensionplans is a utopia and not realistic. Analyses and paths for directions as selfemployed are vulnerable. Testimonials tell that a postmodern society needs christian artists as, in addition, they communicate essential values that hold the society together.
  3. Aug.4 - Lifelong learning & the selfemployed/flexworker. Prof. Ward H.J.Roofthooft, Ph.D. University guest lector, Belgium
    • And life for these selfemployed persons is so hectic that they forget to participate in life long learning programs. The context of this sector is changing so rapidly, that new training, new insights, new techniques must be learned, so time for a flexible attitude in learning.1/4 of your time are spend on services, ¼ on learning, ¼ on administration, ¼ on work.
    • Good governance of yourself needs to create life long learning facilities ( especially when you are self-employed as no boss will do that for you). So BE PREPARED, go and do!
    • Arts and culture as growing economic engines for any state need special care for the selfemployed artists/cultural workers. So politics need to be aware, but as YOU live in the knowlwdge age and ’learning is work’: live as if this is your last day and learn as if you will live forever (Ghandi). Analyses and paths for directions. Testimonials challenge you to keep learning!
  4. Aug.5 - FlexaCURITY & the selfemployed/flexworker. Aert Jan de Geus, Ph.D, OECD, Paris, France
    • The study of recessions show that it will take many years (5-9) to get out of our crisis.Huge problems arise as most political decisions are short term, should be long term.
    • Basic securities are: healthcare, a social net (like wellfare, when needed), a pensionplan, decent housing. These benefits are very normal when you work for an employer (firm, government, industry, bank, shop, etc). The moment you are self-employed nothing seems to be normal anymore, but those securities are needed. It is a matter of social justice and of good governance. Due to the crises, the cultural sector self-employed are hit more deeply than other sectors. So how to organise this for the self-employed? Here again trade unions and state politicians need to talk and decide on safety nets.
    • Analyses and paths for directions: train longer, learn more, understand for your professions the link between economy and ecology. And politicians should understand the golden rule of real vision: good laws and regulations are made for times of crises. Testimonials tell about the need today for multi-job orientations.
  5. Leen La Rivière, chairman CNV Kunstenbond/International division Christian Artists, Netherlands
    Leen La Rivière had each late evening a closing note, as summary of the whole day.

    Sat. aug.1: Make a switch, make a transformation of the mindset to enter this week of social-cultural dialogue. This is based on respect for the other and the others expressions; this is a practical seminar and a very inspirational seminar, it deals with vision, spirituality, faith, gifts, Gods Kingdom and the here-and-now. We want to stir up your creativity, thoughts, as it is ALL ABOUT YOU and the context you live in.

    Sun. aug.2: A real socio-cultural dialogue is not (political) propanda. Let any shroud that separates us be moved away. That starts by learning to enjoy the others and the others expressions. To do right creates peace, that includes to do right about yourself, think about your personal need for safety and health. How much could we learn from the cartoonfilms of this morning? So in the midst of stress, keep thinking and acting.

    Mon. aug.3: truth will set us free. How true is that. So our attention is asked that for all exists a right time. We all need to become active in our personal management. Do you understand the larger contexts? We live in a risk society.

    Tues. aug.4: To do good, what does that mean? No art without the artists. Their work is only possible, if there are the right conditions. That means we need to work on quality and avoid superficiality, as we unfortunately sometimes see. So we are called to learn, ongoing learning, life long learning, that is an act of worship.

    Wed. aug.5: We are challenged to have visions, dreams, new ideas. We need here the help of any form of learning, and by entering the processes of dialogue. We need the arts to be prophetic in our societies.We are called to have faith: faith in yourself, faith in our society, faith in the importance to share the European house and not be ruled by fear. The road ahead may be bumpy, you may be vulnarable, but still together we go this road.


  1. As long as people work for a work-provider, the state or trade-unions can demand safety and health protocols, protecting the workers. The moment workers become flex-workers this protection becomes less, the moment a worker becomes self-employed there is hardly any protection.
  2. Trade unions should starting to organise (special memberships) for these self-employed, as they are co-workers in the sectors where trade unions have members as classical employees, so trade unions can advise on right hourly-rates of pay, safety, health, provide systems for life long learning, help to create special insurances, legal help, pension provisions, etc.
  3. Trade unions should move out their classical work-providers versus employees attitudes, as EU moves fast into a flex-networking-society.
  4. In the Netherlands FNV and CNV organise already since some years the selfemployed with very encouraging results in the field of provisions, insurances, life long learning, safety and health, pensions, etc.
  5. The EU states need to start thinking about needed laws to protect the flex-selfemployed against exploitation, too long working hours, by law setting mimimum safety protocols and help for providing insurances and pensionplans for this new workforce. Cooperation with experts, trade unions, etc is requested, as a fast growing number of people goes (wanted, or unwanted) in the flex-selfemployed situation.
  6. In some sectors of flex-self-employed work the work situation is identical, with almost total loss of social contacts, too many hours per day, breaking up of the family, the impossibility to raise a family (children), living on or under the poverty line, etc. Actors? of the civil society should take note of these dangers and these people should step in to empower those recognised weaknesses. Help should come from local councils, cultural organizations, churches, media, trade unions.
  7. The expression: “live if this is your last day and learn if you live forever“ is a good gate-keeper for the flex-selfemployed. The actors? of the civil society need to communicate this motto, but should provide as well, ways and systems for (distance) learning. Ongoing (life long) learning helps as well the needed awareness for health and safety, as the self-employed need to think ahead and PLAN this all for themselves. Prepare yourself to be prepared, as the flex-self-employed are very vulnerable in so many ways.
  8. We can learn from the past crises and the actual one, that to have finally income it is so important to learn more, study longer, study more different things, so that workers develop a multi-task orientation, as the contemporary network society needs well trained workers, who are flexable and are able to do a wide range of possible jobs.
  9. The crisis and the changes in work, changes in the society demand an ongoing socio-cultural-political-economical dialogue.There is still too much that needs to be debated and there is still too much not completely analysed.