14 May 2018

Pay, working conditions and industrial relations institutions in the creative industry

The report ‘Strategic, but vulnerable: Industrial Relations and Creative Workers (IR-CREA) - National report Denmark’ includes the results from the Danish part of a comparative report. The project aims to describe and analyze pay and working conditions within the creative industry in Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands.

The first part of the study analyses the general characteristic of wage and working conditions work in the Danish creative industry. One characteristic is a comparative high and increasing number of atypical employees, although variation exist between the art-related part of the creative industry, where full-time jobs and open-ended contracts are very rare, and the rest of the creative industry, where such jobs are more widespread. Another characteristic is that work organization are dominated by time-limited projects. A third is widespread ‘multi-jobbing’, which does not prevent the majority of the employees to have the creative industry as their main source of income. In addition, portfolio and personal networks rather than educational background appear pivotal. Finally, the findings reveal that although collective agreement coverage is low and workers and companies are less likely to join traditional organizations compared to other sectors on the Danish labour market, the organizational density of trade unions is increasing and most trade union organizes more than half of the creative workers in their respective area.

The second part of the study compares two subsectors within the creative industry: The graphical design industry – with roots in traditional industry – and the emerging industry of software gaming. Both sectors are characterized by a high presence of atypical work. Portfolios and networks are of great importance in both industries, and so are informal relations and flat job hierarchies. In both sectors there is a division between core- and periphery workers. Furthermore, examples exist of institutionalized as well as informal innovative communities, which often cut across the traditional employer-employee divide. These innovative communities for example involves the recent emergence of various business organizations, a union led freelance bureau as well as different grass-root communities which gather people with similar educational backgrounds with the aim to share information and know how.

The findings also point to differences across the two subsectors. These concerns for example the share of atypical employment, where full-time positions and long work hours are more widespread in the gaming industry than graphic design. In addition graphic designers are more likely to hold two or more jobs compared to game developers. When comparing traditional forms of interest representation such as collective bargaining institutions, the graphic design industry is dominated by a higher collective agreement coverage and employers are more likely to join employers’ associations than their peers in the gaming industry.  It is therefore indicated, that stronger presence of traditional interest-representation at sector level in the graphic design industry does not necessarily lead to a spill-over in terms of better wage and working conditions – if anything, such conditions seems better in the gaming industry . The scarcity of skilled game developers and a surplus of skilled labour in graphical design seems, along with the  higher economic added value per employee in the gaming industry as well as the lack of workplace level bargaining in the graphical design industry, to account for the sector differences.

Read the full report "Strategic, but vulnerable: Industrial Relations and Creative Workers (IR-CREA) - National report Denmark" by Trine P. Larsen, Mikkel Mailand and Patricia T. Larsen.