Council told to look after Fringe workers’ rights

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A UNION has called on the council to take action to protect workers after it was revealed some staff at the Fringe events were paid as little as £3.40 per hour.

Unite has backed called for the City of Edinburgh Council to establish a fair hospitality charter at venues run by the authority to ensure workers are paid the living wage.

Unite wants the living wage for festival workers

Unite wants the living wage for festival workers

The union also wants workers to be given minimum hour contracts and adequate notice for changes to rotas. The plea comes after the union gave evidence to the council’s housing and economy committee.

Last week, council director Paul Lawrence said policies deployed by the Fringe were being reviewed to help create a “consistent code of practice”.

The committee heard from Unite Scotland’s hospitality organiser, Bryan Simpson, who spoke of Unite member who worked at the Assembly Rooms last year. Evidence was heard that she had been promised at least 20 hours per week, but rarely received more than ten.

The union claims that during the Fringe, she and her colleagues received an email from one of the council’s events managers stating it “operates a 24-hour cancellation policy on personnel throughout the festival period.”

Mr Simpson said: “The council’s report into the viability of the fair hospitality charter states that implementation may take up-to three years – even in council-owned venues such as the Assembly Rooms and Usher Hall. This will be of little comfort to those who have their hours and jobs cut with a day’s notice.

“We hope that City of Edinburgh Council will take heed of these worrying reports from their own workers as well as those who work hard to make the Fringe world-class events.

“We hope that they will implement the charter across all council-run venues and strongly encourage private employers to do the same by making the charter a condition for licenses and funding.”

An official “code of practice” is expected to be put in place within months.

Cllr Kate Campbell, Housing and Economy Convener, said: “There were many positive experiences outlined, but also some issues raised of serious concern.

“The specific circumstances raised will be investigated as soon as possible. We recognise that some of the practices raised at committee are unacceptable and where these are connected to council venues action will be taken. A report on the impact of the council adopting the Fair Fringe and Fair Hospitality Charter guidelines will be presented to council in May. It is our intention to implement the recommendations as soon as possible.”

**Please note an earlier version of this story, and the print version references the £3.40 wage applying to Hogmanay. However, this is not the case. We have now corrected the online story and apologise for the error**