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Council to investigate compulsory minimum wage at Edinburgh Fringe

The Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Photo: Jan Kranendonk/Shutterstock
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Edinburgh’s City Council is to produce a report on how to promote fair working conditions at the fringe.

The council has officially welcomed the Fair Fringe campaign by the union Unite, promoting fair conditions for fringe workers.

A motion was passed at a council meeting on August 24 calling on the council to produce a report on how it can encourage the aims of the union’s Fair Hospitality Charter. These include paying workers the living wage, ensuring employees have breaks and that young workers have equal pay, as well as paying for workers’ transport after midnight.

The report will examine which conditions could be attached as a requirement of council funding at the festival to further these aims. This could result in minimum-hour contracts (as opposed to zero-hour contracts) and the living wage introduced at all council-supported venues, which include the Assembly Rooms.

It will also look at the impact of these enhanced working conditions on the economic viability of the fringe and the impact of venue rental and ticket prices.

The report will be produced over the next year, in time for the 2018 festival.

Bryan Simpson from Unite Hospitality said: “We are very pleased that Edinburgh City Council has voted to back the Fair Fringe campaign and our aims to improve the wages and working conditions of fringe staff.

“Last year we were inundated with complaints from workers about their treatment at the fringe. We heard horror stories of workers receiving notional fees for five weeks’ full-time work, bar workers doing lengthy trial shifts unpaid and PR staff getting £10 to hand out 1,000 leaflets.”

He added: “We’re asking all venues, big and small, to sign up to our Fair Fringe charter to ensure staff are given proper contracts, the breaks they are entitled to and a wage they can live on.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, who seconded the motion put forward by fellow councillor Lezley Cameron, said: “We are keen to support this campaign as it promotes fairness and justice for those working in our festivals and venues of which we are very proud. We need to ensure that our own house is in order and to lead by example so that others will see the benefits to the city and to the businesses themselves.”

He added: “This is not an attack on volunteering; we acknowledge that volunteering is integral, but we want people to be confident when they are volunteering that they are not being exploited.”

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