When did working for nothing become a thing?

17-07-08 Courier

Yesterday’s Dundee Courier carried an article that amounted to little more than a free advertisement for ‘volunteer’ stewards at next month’s big music event in Camperdown Park. Not only are they expecting stewards TO WORK FOR NOTHING, ‘anyone interested will have to pay a £20 deposit and a £15 processing fee, with no guarantee they will actually be selected to volunteer.’ They are also expected to provide their own tent, food and toilet roll. Whatever happened to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work? This is run by a commercial organisation not a charity, and I’m sure plenty of people will be taking home a nice profit, so why won’t they pay the people who work for them? And does Dundee City Council consider this acceptable? What about all those people looking for and desperately needing a paid job? Some may even feel pressure to ‘volunteer’ for the sake of their CV?

We put this up on Facebook last night, where it was greeted by well-deserved horror. We also tagged one of the local councilors who has promised to speak to the organisers. If nothing changes, I can feel a picket coming on…

This is becoming a bit of a pattern. Remember all those cheerful helpers working for nothing at the Commonwealth Games (we complained about that too). And the zero-hours contract workers hired to clean up Glastonbury and sent away because volunteers had kept the site so tidy. People on zero-hours contracts also lost out in Glasgow when a major gig was cancelled at the last minute. Just because a company is involved in the entertainment business, that doesn’t give it the right to make profits on the back of other people’s goodwill or desperation. All these events involve licensing, if not the use of public spaces and – in the case of the Games – public sponsorship, so there is plenty of scope for local authorities to take action.


3 thoughts on “When did working for nothing become a thing?

  1. this is how its done at music festivals, you get free entry in exchange for a couple of shifts a over the weekend of between 4 and 8 hours per shift, most festivals give you either one meal per day or a ticket you can exchange for food to the value of a meal at a food stall on site.

    deposits are a fairly new thing, instituted as a lot of people were turning up to work on day 1 to get their wrist band then disappearing into the crowd for the rest of the weekend.

    its actually a very good system for both the festival and the staff, the festival get staff they may not be able to afford otherwise while the staff get to attend a festival that would have cost them £100’s for a ticket for a small deposit and a bit of time over the weekend.

    if you are on the litter crew and a hard worker you’ll often be invited to stay on after the festival for paid cleanup work as well.

    its also great fun, especially if you don’t have a big group of friends to go to the festival with as when you get there you are instantly introduced to all the other volunteers working at the festival and they become your big bunch of friends.

    the only thing that sucks about it is the admin fee, i’d personally stay clear of any festival that charged one.

    I used to spend my summer holidays doing exactly this and have met loads of great friends doing so, its not everyone’s cup of tea but its far from the rip off system the article suggests it is.


    1. We know that this system is standard, but that doesn’t make it OK. Most jobs don’t only expect to pay you if you are not enjoying your work.


  2. feel a joint campaign coming on regarding this attitude with 38degrees. have you a contact for them? rene mcdonald glasgow ________________________________


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s