Campaign for Fringe Unionisation wins first battle

Unite the union and Summerhall agreed to a voluntary recognition agreement, the first of its kind in Edinburgh during the Fringe festival

This year, rather than zero hours contracts, Summerhall will be offering its hourly paid Fringe staff minimum contracts of 30 hours per week for those working full time.  All staff will be entitled to breaks which will be written into contracts, whilst they do not have volunteering positions, all training shifts will be paid.

Staff will also be given at least four weeks notice of rotas and will be guaranteed 100% of tips.

Unite Scotland’s hospitality sector organiser Bryan Simpson said: “We know from research  carried out by the Fringe Society that Fringe workers are some of the lowest paid and most insecure workers in Edinburgh with many being paid less than the minimum wage, with no breaks.

"We are pleased that Summerhall has stepped-up as the first major Fringe employer to support the aims of the Fair Hospitality charter and recognise Unite as the union for their staff.

"We hope that this sends a clear message to other Fringe employers that they can and should mark themselves out as a decent employer willing to reward their hard-working staff accordingly by supporting the Fair Hospitality charter.”

Mary Alexander, deputy Scottish secretary Unite, said: “As a significant employer, Festival venue and all year arts organisation, Summerhall’s support for Unite’s Fair Hospitality charter marks an important step in our campaign to transform all workers’ rights at the Fringe and throughout the hospitality industry in Edinburgh.”

The win is the first victory of its kind Unite have won in their battle to improve working standards at the festival, after forcing Edinburgh City Council to recommend that all organisations follow a set of guidelines, including paying workers the Scottish real living wage of £8.75 per hour, ensuring proper rest breaks, anti-discrimination measures, payment of contractual sick pay, halting unpaid trial shifts, and receiving tips in full.

Summerhall’s general manager Sam Gough said: "We are delighted to be recognised for the work we have done and continue to do to make Summerhall a fair and safe workplace. So working with Unite is the next step in publicising and formalising our goal to ensure Summerhall is an excellent place to work– and recognising the skills our temporary staff bring by paying them well and ensuring hours are secure."

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