Edinburgh Fringe chiefs launch campaign for fiar pay deal

The Fringe Society aims for everyone involved to have 'the best experience possible'The Fringe Society aims for everyone involved to have 'the best experience possible'
The Fringe Society aims for everyone involved to have 'the best experience possible'

Edinburgh Festival Fringe organisers have triggered moves to ensure people working at the money-spinning event are paid fairly.

Organisers have launched an online poll on working conditions at official venues as part of a drive to ensure staff are “legally and fairly” paid.

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They have urged people to respond honestly to the survey, insisting it will “inform the response and actions of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as a promoter of best practice”.

Trade union leaders mounted a campaign at the start of this year’s festival against the “widespread exploitation” of Fringe workers.

The event’s governing body has been urged to introduce a new code of practice for venues and promoters booking space for shows in its official programme.

The Fair Fringe campaign – which claimed many workers were not issued with contracts and were unaware of their employment rights – was backed by leading performers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the city council within weeks.

It was been claimed that some Fringe staff were being paid as little as £200 for six weeks’ work, with some staff having to work for 12 hours or more without a break. Venues have been accused of taking on people as young as 16, and treating them as volunteers or work experience interns.

Leaders of the Fair Fringe campaign want all workers to be paid the Living Wage of £8.45 an hour. Other demands include a ban on zero hours contracts and unpaid “trial” shifts, plus providing rest breaks and paid transport home after midnight.

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The Fringe Society said it wanted to build an “unbiased and comprehensive picture” of working conditions across the festival over the last two years. It has urged front-of-house, box office, bar staff and even security guards to take part in the survey, which is being carried out for the Fringe by the arts research company Culture Republic.

A spokeswoman for the Society said: “We have commissioned Culture Republic to carry out an independent survey across the Fringe and its workers, ensuring it reflects a representative sample of different models of operation.

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“We’re working with venues to survey their seasonal and fixed-term employees. The data collected will be used to inform our ongoing consultation with venues about staffing, and ultimately help us ensure the Fringe works for everyone involved.

“Our aim is always for those who choose to be involved in the Fringe … to have the best experience possible and we will continue to work closely with venues and companies to promote a fair and positive working environment for all.

“We are committed to working with venues to ensure that they legally and fairly compensate their staff for the work they do during Fringe.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We welcome the Fringe Society’s moves to build a clearer picture of the working arrangements for its extraordinary variety of workers, performers, directors and other creative professionals, and hope people use this opportunity to really have their say.

“We will be interested to see what measures are proposed as a result of the research to further promote fair experiences for all.”