Edinburgh city council backs Fair Fringe campaign

Edinburgh city council backs Fair Fringe campaign

24 August 2017

Edinburgh city council has today backed the Fair Fringe campaign, which will see the living wage and minimum hour contracts introduced at all council-run venues including the Assembly Rooms and the Usher Hall. 

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 1000 leaflets.

“This year we've decided to do something about it and have teamed up with activists in Edinburgh and Better than Zero to launch the Fair Fringe campaign which seeks to improve the wages and working conditions of the staff who work so hard to make it one of the greatest cultural events in the World.

“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 that they are entitled to and a wage they can live on and will be working with the Fringe Society to write out to all Fringe employees to that end.

“Unite will be offering advice and support to any workers being exploited to ensure that they get what they are entitled to and we will be encouraging them to join the union to assist our efforts to win full trade union recognition and secure sustainable agreements on pay and terms and conditions for events and hospitality workers.”

The leader of Edinburgh city council, Andy McVey whose SNP Group also voted in support of the Charter said: “We need to work on spreading good practices across venues and everyone else that is involved with the festivals this month”

Former Lord Provost and Labour councillor Donald Wilson seconded the motion. He 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.”


For further information contact or Bryan Simpson on or on 07891118390

Notes to editors:

The motion which passed unanimously was proposed by Lezley Cameron, Labour cllr for Liberton / Gilmerton. It states: "This council welcomes the work of the Fair Fringe campaign to promote fair working conditions for fringe workers. This council calls for a report ahead of plans for next year’s summer Festivals and Fringe on how the 10 aims of the Fair Hospitality Charter can best be promoted and adhered to by employers hiring council owned Festival and Fringe venues for the purposes for running Fringe events and hosting food and beverage venues. The report should examine which conditions could be attached to Council grant funding to further these aims:

  • Pay workers the real living wage;
  • Give workers rest breaks;
  • Equal pay for young workers;
  • Minimum hour contracts for workers;
  • Adopt clear policies which prevent sexual harassment;
  • Paid transport after 12am;
  • Consult workers on rota changes;
  • Ensure 100% of tips are paid to workers;
  • Allow Trade Union access to represent and organise staff.”

Following today’s endorsement the council is expected to commission a report into how Unite’s Fair Hospitality Charter can be “promoted and adhered to” by anyone wishing to hire a council-run venue. 

This would mean that workers at some of Edinburgh’s best loved venues including the Assembly Rooms and Usher Hall would be assured a living wage of at least £8.45 an hour as well as minimum hour contracts in adherence with Unite’s 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. 

  • 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.
  • Survey for Fringe staff to fill in
  • #FairFringe petition
  • The Fair Fringe open letter now has the support of the following performers and venues: Josie Long; Frankie Boyle; The Stand Comedy Club (Edinburgh & Glasgow); Mark Thomas; Ramm; Busty Beats (Hot brown hunnies); Louise Reay; Lucy Porter; Mark Watson; Fred MacAulay; New Town Theatre; Louise Reay; Tiernan Douieb; Steve K Amos

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

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