Working Artists contribute to STUC report on precarious work

Working Artists contribute to STUC report on precarious work


STUC launch report on precarious work with contributions from Scottish Artists Union members


Ground-breaking STUC report launches with Ken Loach’s new film dramatising precarious work

Low pay continues to be a major issue, but workers also report that it is their time and their control over their lives that are casualties of the increase in precarious work.


On the 22nd of October, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) launched their new report, “Time, Control, Trust: Collectivising in Precarious Work”. It presented joint research by the STUC and academics from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

Featuring contributions from working artists and the Scottish Artists Union, the report echoes the findings of our Members' Survey highlighting issues of pay, terms and conditions and the impact unstable, infrequent, precarious work has on artists.

Lauren Printy Currie, Scottish Artists Union's Learning Manager says:

It is great to hear the voices of freelancers, unions and researchers brought together in such an important document. We were delighted to be able to contribute to this report and be in a room with our union colleagues from Equity, Musicians Union and the National Union of Journalists discussing precarious work, understanding the particular contexts of our sectors, their differences and crossovers but also importantly how we can work together to support isolated workers.

"Many workers are at breaking point, we have to talk about time, pay, exhaustion, mental health, sustainability, viability, or we risk not having any creative workers because we have lost them to a salary and security in a completely different line of work. It is important to me that freelancers in whatever capacity as workers, from art to hospitality, have a strong voice in communicating how they want their sector to operate and how their contributions are supported.

We are delighted to see the release of this STUC report as it engages so strongly with these issues. Standing in solidarity with all workers finding themselves in a precarious work situation!"

The report includes working artists' comments on the impact unstable, unfair work practices has on mental health, especially in regard to managing their time; the need to bring isolated workers together in a supportive, trusting environment through our learning and leadership programme; and how our Fair Work contract gives control back in the hands of our members.

Ken Loach and Paul Laverty’s ‘Sorry We Missed You’, a film dramatising one family’s nightmarish experience of precarious work, will have its “people’s premiere” in Glasgow the day after the launch. The two events are synchronised to highlight ongoing issues of insecurity and exploitation that are often overshadowed by recent constitutional debates.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary stated,

“This report reflects years of research and offers the richest illustration yet of how far precarious work has penetrated into daily life in Scotland. Together with Loach and Laverty’s pathbreaking film, it will be a wakeup call to a political and economic establishment that has become complacent in the face of contemporary exploitation.

“Precarious work isn’t inevitable. Generations of trade union activism have allowed many people to live in comfort and security. The danger is that low wages, intensified work and zero-hour contracts are becoming normal practices in parts of our economy thanks to the pressure of welfare cuts and anti-union laws. These corners of exploitation are a threat to everyone’s living standards. The fight against precarity is thus a fight for all workers in our economy.

Sorry We Missed You shows the horrors of precarious work. To that, we’ve added rigorous, academically supported research. But we’re also looking to highlight the only positive solution to this problem. Governments could and should legislate more, but ultimately it’s only the unglamorous grassroots work of trade unions that provide a stable platform for ‘fair work’.”



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