Social dialogue in the audiovisual sector is of fairly recent date and brings together a number of federations on both the workers’ and employers’ sides (musicians, actors, film producers, radio stations, etc.). Having begun with the topic of vocational training, the dialogue then moved on to stress that the diversity of the audiovisual industry’s sectors and sub-sectors must be taken into account in legal definitions of employment and self-employment. Often, in fact, work in the audiovisual sector is atypical employment.
Negotiations to set up a European social dialogue in the public audiovisual sector began in 1998, between EURO-MEI and the European Broadcasting Union, EBU. This process led to the setting up of a Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee (SSDC) encompassing the audiovisual sector as a whole. The Committee was officially inaugurated on 29 April 2004. As mentioned above, it brings together participants from a wide range of fields, on both the union and employer sides. The committee's rules of procedure are quite explicit, and adhere strictly to the provisions of the Commission decision instituting these SSDCs (Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998).
It was not until 2006 that a brief joint declaration was adopted (as a follow-up to a conference held in Warsaw). The declaration defines the major issues in the sector in these terms: "Public service and commercial broadcasting, as well as production, are witnessing fundamental changes linked to the development of new technologies. New technologies offer both the opportunity and the need to create and invest into new forms of communication, products and new forms of delivery. With the audiovisual sector undergoing constant change and developing new business models, training is of key importance.” After giving formal recognition to ILO Conventions Nos. 87 (freedom of association and protection of the right to organise) and 98 (right to organise and collective bargaining), the joint declaration then stresses the importance of social dialogue at European, national, regional, local and company level, and calls on the EU and its Member States to promote and facilitate such social dialogue. The declaration also announces discussions to be held on the Commission’s Green Paper on modernisation of labour law.
As a result, in 2007 the social partners in the sector adopted their first joint opinion on labour law. It particularly stresses the diversity of sectors and sub-sectors in the audiovisual industry, to be taken into account in legal definitions of paid employment and self-employment. Employment in the audiovisual sector is indeed often atypical: as well as full-time jobs, there are numerous part-time formulae, fixed-term contracts etc., which calls for a certain degree of flexibility in legal definitions. This joint opinion also acknowledges the fact that the sector is exposed to moonlighting (undeclared work) and to transnational mobility, requiring enhanced cooperation between Member States (particularly in respect of labour inspection).
The sectoral work programme for 2009 focuses on promotion of social dialogue, vocational training, equal opportunities, health and safety, follow-up to the Green Paper on labour law, evaluation of the SSDC five years on, and consultation on EU legislative initiatives in the field of employment and social affairs. These various priorities will be addressed through study visits, the establishment of working groups, pooling of experience etc. So it looks as though 2009 is the year when this sectoral social dialogue reaches cruising speed.