Edinburgh Fringe ‘Bad Boss Awards’ will expose top offenders

The dossier claims that many workers are underpaid and working in precarious conditions. Picture: Scott Louden
The dossier claims that many workers are underpaid and working in precarious conditions. Picture: Scott Louden
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Campaigners fighting the “exploitation” of workers at Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues are to stage their own alternative awards at the end of the month to highlights the worst offenders.

Representatives of the Fair Fringe campaign will turn up on the doorstep of the winners of the new “not-so-prestigious” awards.

They will be revealed the day before the winners of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards are announced.

Separate awards will be handed out for “poor pay, rubbish rotas, bad volunteering programmes and horrible working environments”.

The “Bad Boss Awards” have been announced days after the publication of a damning new dossier into the treatment of workers at the Fringe. It claimed the event is being tarnished by “shameful” practices by Fringe operators which has left many workers “underpaid, poorly treated and working in precarious conditions.

More than 16,000 people have now signed an online petition calling a “fair hospitality charter” which would see all Fringe workers paid the living wage, promises proper rest breaks and offered minimum hours contracts.

A statement from the Fair Fringe campaign said: “The Edinburgh Festival plays home to many glitzy award ceremonies, but those will soon be joined by four not-so-prestigious awards, launched to put the spotlight on the exploitation of staff at the capital’s annual landmark event.

“The Bad Boss Awards inv­ites nominations from workers to further draw attention to the plight of workers at the festival, who face rock-bottom pay, gruelling hours, and precarious conditions.

“Staff will be asked to nominate their employer in four categories representing some of the biggest issues.”

An online survey states: “Is your boss paying you peanuts? Do they schedule you in until 4am and then again the next morning? Do they stand by and do nothing while customers harass staff?

“Or did they recruit you to a volunteering scheme with promises of industry experience, only for you to be doing grunt work with no purpose? If this sounds familiar, nominate your boss.”

Fair Fringe campaigner Mike Williamson said: “Fringe bosses are accustomed to competing in glamorous awards ceremonies, and sweeping their exploitative practices under the red carpet. The Bad Boss Awards put workers centre-stage to tell their stories.

“Far too many workers get paid the bare minimum wage, or even less in some cases, as well as getting last minute rota changes that leave them out of pocket. If they complain, they can find themselves with no more shifts. The commercial success of the festival is built on exploitation and it’s high time that came to an end.”