Tommy Sheppard calls for Fringe staff to be paid ‘living wage’

Tommy Sheppard has called for the living wage to be paid to Fringe staff.
Tommy Sheppard has called for the living wage to be paid to Fringe staff.
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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe should introduce a new code of practice to help ensure a fairer pay deal for venue workers, according to one of the city’s MPs.

Tommy Sheppard has urged organisers of the 70-year-old event to set firm guidelines to ensure staff are paid the “living wage” of £8.45 an hour.

Mr Sheppard claimed there was “widespread” exploitation of Fringe workers despite millions of pounds being made by venues. He has intervened days after the launch of a “Fair Fringe” campaign to improve the wages and working conditions of venue staff, amid claims that some were being paid just £200 for six weeks’ work.

He said there was an ethical and moral case for the Fringe, which charges for programme entries, to “encourage” a raising of standards across the board. Mr Sheppard, a former comedy promoter who was previously on the Fringe board, said action was long overdue.

He said: “There is probably widespread agreement this is something that needs looked at now and has been ignored for too long. While allowing room for amateur productions and volunteering, there needs to be a much more professional approach to ensure people working in a proper job are being paid a fair rate. I don’t think anyone sets out to deliberately exploit people. But there are situations where the lines between volunteer and worker are blurred.”