Unite the union and Summerhall have today (Thursday 26 July) agreed to a voluntary recognition agreement which will be the first of its kind in the capital. 

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. Bespoke minimum hours contracts for all staff will follow. 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 be given at least four weeks notice of rotas and will be guaranteed 100% of tips. Summerhall owner Robert McDowell has expressed his delight that Unite is working with the venue. 

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."

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.”


Notes to editors

For further information contact Bryan Simpson on bryan.simpson@unitetheunion.org or on 07891118390

About Unite Hospitality: 
Unite’s Fair Hospitality Campaign  is the only trade union campaign specifically designed to support workers in the bar/restaurant/hotel industry. We aim to give hospitality workers the legal knowledge, organising skills and collective confidence to transform the hospitality industry for the better.

The Fair Hospitality Charter calls on employers to do 10 things:

  • Pay the real living wage
  • Give legally entitled rest breaks
  • Equal pay for young workers
  • Minimum hour contracts (no-zero hour contracts)
  • End unpaid trial shifts 
  • Implement Anti-sexual harassment policy
  • Paid transport after 12am
  • Consult on rota changes
  • 100% tips to staff
  • Allow relevant trade union access 

About Unite Scotland  

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.