Below is the text of an open letter to Fringe employers. We're looking for signatures from Edinburgh-based politicians, campaign groups, and artists and performers at the Fringe. If you'd like to sign, email us: fairfringe [at] gmail [dot] com
We love the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s a colossal concoction of culture and chaos. It brings together hundreds of thousands of people who create something wonderful collectively.
That number includes of course producers, performers and the public, but it also includes festival workers: bartenders, stagehands, venue attendants, flyerers, box office staff, sound engineers, cleaners, marketing assistants, security guards. The Fringe relies on a small army of workers, many of whom go unseen and underappreciated.
Whilst workers make the Fringe possible, the Fringe doesn’t always work for workers.
Festival workers are underpaid and treated poorly in precarious conditions.
The living wage of £8.45ph is almost unheard of at the Fringe, and some festival employers don’t even pay the minimum wage, calling their staff “volunteers” instead. Many staff end up working many more hours than they’re paid for. Younger workers are paid less for the same work. Very few fringe workers get sick pay or holiday pay.
Often, pay is replaced with ‘perks’ like free tickets you don’t have time to use, or accommodation in overcrowded flats, which means workers can’t leave their jobs without also losing their housing.
Staff are given gruelling work rotas, often working for 12 hours or more without proper breaks, and often working the entire month of August without a day off. Some work into the early hours at night and begin again early the next morning, without an adequate break to sleep.
Sexual harassment in Fringe venues is rife, and employers do not take their duty of care responsibilities seriously.
Many fringe workers are not issued contracts, are completely unaware of their rights, and are poorly managed by overworked and underpaid managers with no more experience than themselves.
It’s time for a #FairFringe that works for workers.
We the undersigned call upon festival employers (including Assembly, Gilded Balloon, C Venues, Pleasance, Underbelly, and the Fringe Society itself, as well as the many smaller and more casual employers) to sign up to Unite’s Fair Hospitality Charter.