The time of the medieval guilds when local trade groups competed with each other to protect their privileges is long gone. In the early nineteenth century, the first trade unions emerged to fight for the interests of all working people. In our part of the world, we had to wait until after the Second World War for the first cultural trade union. In 1945 the ‘Algemeen Verbond voor Toon en Toneelkunstenaars’ (General Association for Musicians and Stage Artists) saw the light of day, which later became the ‘Belgisch Spektakelverbond’ (Belgian Entertainment Association).
When the Royal Opera House became a public service in the 1960s (parastatal B), many cultural workers united in the ACOD (CGSP) federation of the socialist trade union ABVV (FGTB). Over the years, this cultural association has systematically expanded its scope from ‘public services’ to non-profit organizations and private organizations (such as Studio 100, Music Hall, etc.).
Today there are at least ten good reasons why ACOD Cultuur (CGSP Culture) is useful for you as a cultural worker.
- You can consult us for legal advice and legal assistance. In terms of membership fees, we are moreover cheaper than other trade unions or sectors.
- In order to represent the interests of its members, ACOD Cultuur (CGSP Culture) representatives are represented in the following organizations and consultation bodies: (1) on the boards of the social funds (performing arts and audiovisual sector), (2) Joint Committee 304 (Entertainment industry), Joint Committee 303 (Film industry), Joint Committee 329 (Sociocultural work) and Joint Committee 227 (Private audiovisual sector), and (3) the High Consultative Committee of the Flemish Community 18 (VRT).
- We are active in Basic Consultative Committees of various large organizations (e.g. Royal Opera House, National Orchestra of Belgium and VRT/RTBF) and have representatives in the Committees for Prevention and Protection at Work (Royal Flemish Theatre, Het Toneelhuis, NTGent, Het Paleis, De Filharmonie, Kunsthuis Opera en Ballet, Brussels Philharmonic, MuHKA, Integration & Integration, etc.) and the Works Councils (Het Toneelhuis, De Filharmonie, Kunsthuis Opera en Ballet, Brussels Philharmonic, Integration & Integration, etc.). With regard to the smaller institutions without trade-union representation, we have a committee for each sub-sector which identifies problems and develops proposals.
- We monitor cultural policy and consult with the major cities, the Flemish Government, the Brussels Government and the Federal Government.
- We consult with other trade unions and interest groups in order to jointly develop proposals that improve sustainability, diversity, democratization and solidarity in the wider cultural field.
- We maintain close contacts with trade unions at the European and international level in order to help shape European policy, to exchange knowledge, to take action in solidarity and, in times of globalization, to foster trade-union development beyond national borders.
- We are one of the official negotiators who create Collective Labour Agreements (CLAs) and monitor their application.
- We defend the social status of cultural workers in the broad sense: from employee to freelancer. Through our commitment to the status of artists, we have managed to ensure that we have so far been able to avoid in our country situations as in the Netherlands with the so-called ‘Self-employed Without Personnel’ (ZZPers) who lack any social protection.
- As an interest group, we are part of a broad and experienced trade-union federation, with various centres and study services. As a result, we can respond more quickly and more appropriately to current events and will give us more weight in negotiations on policy issues.
- We are a team that is committed to political action and eager for public debate. Our commitment to various citizen movements and social initiatives is not something we need to discuss separately. This is something that we, as committed citizens, would do as well.