Unite Scotland joins forces to launch Fair Fringe campaign

Unite Scotland joins forces with campaign groups and Fringe workers to launch #FairFringe campaign

07 August 2017

On the week that has seen the start of the Edinburgh International Festival, an alliance of fringe workers, Edinburgh-based campaign groups, Unite Hospitality and Better than Zero have launched Fair Fringe. 

The aim of the campaign is to improve the wages and working conditions of staff working at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Fair Fringe will use an open letter signed by performers and politicians as well as a public petition to put pressure on the Fringe’s biggest employers to sign-up to the 'Fair Hospitality charter' which demands the real living wage and an end to zero hours contracts and unpaid trial shifts. 

The campaign is calling for fringe workers to come forward with their ‘nightmare stories’ as part of a workers' survey. 

The campaign follows the Edinburgh International Festival’s steps to promote the living wage, but the Fair Fringe campaign claim this doesn’t go far enough. They say that many people are paid the minimum wage or even less. There are instances where some workers are being classed as ‘volunteers’ to avoid paying them the correct amount. Some received just £200 for six weeks of work.

Kirsty Haigh of the Fair Fringe campaign said: “Fringe workers, just like everyone else, deserve to have their rights in the workplace respected. They deserve to earn a wage they can live off and young workers deserve equal pay for equal work. We need to change the culture of acceptance in the Fringe where exploitation and exhaustion are seen as standard. We need a Fringe that works for everyone”

Bryan Simpson of Unite Hospitality said: "Last year we received reports of widespread use of exploitative practices by Fringe employers including being paid £10 per 1,000 leaflets, working 10 hours without a break and not being paid for work carried out. We are determined not to allow this to happen again. The Fair Fringe campaign seeks to improve the wages and conditions of Fringe staff alongside the workers themselves.

"Unite will be offering advice and support to any workers being exploited to ensure that they get what they are entitled to."


For further information contact Bryan Simpson on or on 07891 118 390 or 

Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.

Notes to editors:

  • Campaign calls on the biggest Fringe employers (the Pleasance, Assembly, Gilded Balloon and Underbelly) to sign up to the 'Fair Hospitality Charter'
  • Fair Fringe is an alliance of Fringe workers, Edinburgh-based campaign groups, Better than Zero and Unite Hospitality in order to fight against exploitative pay and conditions at the Edinburgh Fringe. 
  • Survey for Fringe staff to complete
  • Fair Fringe petition

Unite Fair Hospitality Charter calls on employers to do 10 things: 

  1. Pay the real living wage
  2. Give legally entitled rest breaks
  3. Equal pay for young workers
  4. Minimum hour contracts (no-zero hour contracts)
  5. End unpaid trial shifts 
  6. Implement Anti-sexual harassment policy
  7. Paid transport after 12pm
  8. Consult on rota changes
  9. 100% tips to staff
  10. Trade Union access