“FairTube”: IG Metall and Youtubers Union launch joint initiative


July 22, 2019

Effort aims to improve fairness and transparency for video creators working on online platforms


Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 22 July 2019 — IG Metall, the largest trade union in Europe, and the Youtubers Union, an association of online video creators, announced today a joint initiative to improve the working conditions of YouTubers who earn income, or aim to, from the videos they upload to the YouTube platform. Several thousand people in Germany alone rely on advertising earnings from YouTube videos either as a main or important supplementary income source.

The Youtubers Union was founded by YouTuber Jörg Sprave in March 2018. The catalyst: in Spring 2017, as a result of pressure from advertisers, YouTube drastically changed its rules for assigning advertising to videos. This led to dramatic declines in income for many YouTubers. Since its establishment in Spring 2018, over 15,000 members have joined the Youtubers Union and support its goals of improving fairness and transparency for YouTubers. Among other demands, the Youtubers Union calls on YouTube to:

  • Make public and clear its rules, categories, and decision making processes when assigning advertising to videos, recommending and hiding videos, or closing channels;
  • Provide YouTube Partners a human contact person; and
  • Make it possible for smaller channels to earn advertising revenue again.

IG Metall began its engagement with work on digital platforms in earnest in 2015 with the establishment of the “Crowdsourcing Project.” This project aims to improve working conditions and establish social dialogue on digital labor platforms. Among other initiatives, the Crowdsourcing Project is home to IG Metall’s participation in the “Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct,” a code of practice developed by German crowdsourcing platforms to develop minimum standards for fair working conditions for platform workers. In cooperation with the eight participating platforms, IG Metall operates the first independent dispute resolution mechanism for workers on digital labor platforms, the “Ombuds Office” (in German “Ombudsstelle”) of the Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct.

Jörg Sprave, founder of the Youtubers Union, said: “Being a YouTuber only looks like a dream job. In reality, YouTubers are at the mercy of the platform. Huge workloads, anxiety over financial security, and unpredictable income is the hard reality for ‘Creators.’ It’s long past time for things to change.”

Christiane Benner, vice president of IG Metall, said: “Platforms like YouTube constantly change their rules to secure higher profits. The interests of the video producers are increasingly neglected. Many YouTubers report financial insecurity, no social protection, and poor communication with the platform operators. The criteria used to determine which videos will receive advertising and which videos will be shown in search results and suggestion lists are completely opaque. This needs urgently to be changed.”

The first activities of the FairTube initiative are in preparation and will begin shortly.


IG Metall Contacts:

Vanessa Barth
Chair, Gender Equality and Diversity Branch, IG Metall Head Office
+49 69 6693 2693

Annette Szegfü
Press Officer, IG Metall Head Office
+49 69 6693 2872