Leader comment: City council takes welcome lead over festival exploitation

Last week several Scottish firms were named and shamed for failing to pay staff the minimum wage and ordered to pay more than £35,000 to workers who were short-changed.

The festival is a major draw and money-spinner in Edinburgh, but some of the profits come at the expense of seasonal employees being paid less than the Living Wage. Picture: PA

Now council chiefs in Edinburgh have announced a move aimed at stamping out exploitation of workers and performers at the city’s internationally renowned festivals, which rake in £313 million a year for the Scottish economy.

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Council leader Adam McVey is right when he says the authority has a “duty of care and an obligation” to anyone involved in the events, which help generate £280m for the capital. And part of that should be a requirement for employee to be paid at least the £8.45 an hour Living Wage.

New guidelines for operators at council-owned venues may not in themselves bring about a complete turnaround in habits, but it could spark a change in the way people behind the scenes of the world’s biggest arts showcase are treated. The measures may prove difficult to police, but perhaps they will make it easier for workers to stand up for their rights and blow the whistle on irresponsible employers.