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Call for freelance union

THE Shanghai branch of the China Democratic League, a political party, has urged the local government to recognize the city's freelance workers and offer them specific services to help them with labor disputes and social welfare.

The city's top advisory body is reviewing the proposal.

Musicians, actors and writers, among others, make up an increasingly large group of freelance workers in the city, but as yet they are not legally recognized as employed, said Li Zhenlin, a professor with the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

The school's students and graduates, many of whom pursue careers as self-employed artists and writers, often found it difficult to get paid for their work, Li said.

Li, a local member of the China Democratic League, initiated the proposal.

"Some graduates have told me they only received a down payment from employers but not the full amount after they completed their roles in films or sent over their scripts," Li said. A lawsuit is often considered not worth the time and effort because the payments freelancers were chasing were small amounts, Li said.

He suggested the local authorities establish a freelancers' trade union to offer legal consultation and guidance. Labor authorities were also urged to include freelance workers in their labor market reports.

Freelance workers can open social-security funds and make contributions, but not many do because of a lack of guidance, Li said.


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