"We have a full list of demands" - Jennifer Münch, Chairwoman of the GDBA Freelancers' Council

Why should freelancers in particular be unionized in the GDBA?

The fact is that many freelancers at theaters, we call them "production-related guests", are not recognized as employees. Nevertheless, it is important to get involved in the trade union that represents the interests of employees, because stage employees now also include guests. And there are more and more of them ... The GDBA and in particular the Freelancers' Council (FSR) offers freelancers the opportunity to use structures and networks, e.g. we have a seat on the collective bargaining committee in order to gain influence on how our working environment is shaped. Legal support and legal advice is also important, as is the exchange of ideas among us.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue for freelancers?

Admittedly, the needs of the "free membership" diverge; it is by no means a homogeneous group. But one thing must be clear: there urgently needs to be binding regulations to ensure that we are not considered "fair game", depending on the taste of the theater management or the circumstances. In concrete terms, this means clarifying the employee status of employed guests and putting them on an equal footing with permanent ensemble members, who are defined in a "special guest regulation". This applies in particular to regulated working hours, although this could also be improved at the festivals, compatibility of work, family and leisure time, guest accommodation (yes, standards must be set: an apartment without WiFi and no connection to public transport is not very hospitable), as well as continued payment in the event of illness and absence regulations. For guests with work contracts, the be-all and end-all is a model contract that includes fair lower fee limits, but also fair fee scales - e.g. according to experience - adapted to the reality of the work.

Jennifer Münch, Chairwoman of the GDBA Freelancers' Council (Photo: Antje Pohsegger)

How do you perceive the current collective bargaining negotiations for freelancers? What issues do you think are not yet being negotiated?

I am glad that the situation of freelancers has been an issue in collective bargaining since the FSR was founded and it is high time that it was. We have a full catalog of demands with all the demands of freelancers that we are bringing to the negotiating table. It's clear that we have to prioritize our demands in this colourful bouquet, but then: constant dripping wears away the stone, keep at it continuously and steadily! It is important that our concerns are heard and that binding regulations are agreed without loopholes. The first step was to clarify the status of employees. The first meeting tended to be positive.

Interview: Mesut Bayraktar (Editorial TOI TOI TOI)

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