Today Volunteer Scotland has agreed to remove an advert for 280 unpaid roles at Edinburgh Hogmanay after it was discovered that the roles will displace paid work and will include mandatory training and set shifts.
Better than Zero organiser Bryan Simpson said:
“We are pleased that Volunteer Scotland has taken down the Underbelly advert from their website. Any credibility that Underbelly had to justify these jobs as genuine volunteer opportunities has now vanished like the wages that the workers should be getting.
Volunteering should be about giving-back to your local community not lining the pockets of private companies like Underbelly who have contributed very little to the people.
At £26 per ticket, this is set to be the most expensive Hogmanay so far with Underbelly set to make millions from the event and yet almost 300 of those who will staff the event won’t receive a penny in wages.
Section 44 of the NMW Act makes quite clear that the only organisations exempt from paying workers the minimum wage are “"charity, a voluntary organisation, an associated fund-raising body or a statutory body". Underbelly is a Private Limited Company which pocketed £419,478 for its 3 shareholders in 2016. It does not fulfil any of the legal definitions which make it exempt from paying the National Minimum Wage. We believe that Underbelly are therefore in breach of the NMW Act and will be pursuing them alongside the workers who have been underpaid for unlawful deduction of wages.
We would urge Underbelly to pay all staff the living wage in accordance with the Fair Fringe Charter supported by Edinburgh City Council in August.
This also raises serious questions about the inaction of Edinburgh City Council who have remained largely silent on the issue. When they awarded the contract to Underbelly over Unique Events in March they done so on the promise that they could do it £500k cheaper. We believe that that “saving” had been passed onto the workers who will staff the event, in the freezing cold for absolutely no wages”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact: Bryan Simpson on 07891118390
Better than Zero is the nationwide campaign against zero hours contracts and poverty pay in the hospitality sector. We take direct action against the most exploitative employers in Scotland in order to raise awareness of their ill-treatment of staff and train activists to organise their workplaces against exploitative work practices.
Underbelly were awarded the contract by Edinburgh City Council in March 2017 after it was taken from Unique Events who had hosted the event since 1993.
Read more at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/entertainment/former-edinburgh-s-hogmanay-boss-gutted-over-contract-1-4403128