Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council organises teams of local trade unionists to work on bars at music festivals to raise our funds for our campaigning work. Over 20 summers at festivals at around sixty festivals; our volunteers raised £38,700.
Unlikely to continue post-pandemic
Watch the server guide video here to see what it’s all about
We only recruit local trade unionists prepared to support our aims and campaigns.
– if you are interested in working future festivals
YOU MUST SUPPLY the following info:
- your name
- mobile number
- your email – a information is all sent out by email only
- passport style, head and shoulders photo in jpeg format ( preferably 640×480)
- date of birth – You must be over 18 years of age to serve alcohol
- a contact in case of emergency
- you must confirm that you have the ‘right to volunteer’ as per UK Border Agency guidelines
- name of trade union that you are a member of (you must be a trade union member to apply) – we may need a reference from your union.
Send this information to Wolves TUC Secretary by email from the CONTACT US page on this website
if you have already worked for us then just send any updated details you have.
The sooner you reply, the more chance there is of getting a place.
We will tell you what places you’ve been allocated for the festivals usually in April each year – see info below
- What is expected of you?
· to work shifts for each day of a festival on a bar serving pints, no experience needed. Most often we work 6 hour shifts when the festival is on, but they can vary between 4 and 8 hours. Volunteers should expect to work 3 late shifts over a 5 day event and 2 late night shifts over a 3 day event; the rest of the time you can enjoy the festival with the other volunteers
· hard work, reliability, honesty and a sense of humour. Tips are shared communally.
· if you offer to work, you must definitely be available
· you’ll also need a tent, though we do have spares
. your name, address, email, mobile via CONTACTS page of this site
. send by email your photo (passport type – for festival security passes)
What do you get?
- free entry to a festival (which would cost often £200+)
- 2 Meal vouchers for each day the volunteers are rostered on to work which may be exchanged in the canteen located in WBC/EBC Camping Village.
- 2 drink vouchers for staff to exchange at the end of their shift at an agreed WBC/EBC outlet.
- cheap workers’ bar, open after hours
- secure camping with hot showers and flush toilets
- All volunteers get on site training of bar operation & Health and Safety prior to their first shift in the bar they have been assigned to.
- Rest breaks during working hours to be taken during ‘off peak’ times in conjunction with Tent management – 20mins if working up to 6 hours, 30mins if rostered for longer.
- we car share from Wolverhampton to festivals.
What’s it all for?
Wolverhampton TUC gets £8/ volunteer-hour from the Workers’ Beer Company. The first festival we worked as a Wolves TUC team was new year’s eve 1998. Since then we’ve sent volunteers to work at over 60 festivals and raise about £2,000 each year which has allowed us to increase our activity. This extra money is spent on solidarity to strikers, coaches to national demos, Morning Star, general recruitment campaigning and other events that we help organise such as May Day. This money is crucial to our work so we must be careful about who works for us.
If anything goes wrong then we run the risk of losing ALL future work and income. By recruiting local trade unionists we have a link as a trades union council and logistically it is so much simpler, so for this reason unfortunately we do not accept volunteers from outside our local geographical remit.
We will be fined the industry standard £225 penalty fee on behalf of any volunteer who is found to be involved in a breach of the Code of Conduct (this includes failure to report for duty).
Dropouts, less than 7 days before festival, and no-shows at event will result in a reduction in our allocation for future events and you being dropped by us for future work.
What is the Workers’ Beer Company?
The WBC was set up by Wandsworth and Battersea Trades Union Council. They started at Glastonbury in 1986 running the beer tents and bars and organise and promote music festivals. They have paid over £7million directly to grassroots organisations such as trades union branches, campaigning groups, solidarity organisations and voluntary groups for the work of the hundreds of volunteer workers they provide each summer. The Beer Company uses the excess funds to continue to fund the Organising Centre for BWTUC which has led the fight in Wandsworth against the cuts and specifically the sale of school playing fields in Putney to pay for a free school in Battersea. It is also able to continue to support the TUC’s Tolpuddle festival in Dorset.
The Company grew up in the harsh years of Thatcher, building partnerships with organisations of the left, but also with commercial organisations, in order to generate the funds needed to campaign for a better quality of life for working people. Thousands of volunteers work in Workers Beer Company bars, pouring and serving drinks to fund the activities of their groups.
The Company’s unique blend of commerce, fun and fundraising has captured the imagination of the many people who have come into contact with it, and WBC banners are now a common site at some of the largest music events in the UK and beyond. Glastonbury, Leeds & Reading, Latitude etc
Apart from the large events, the Company is also involved in smaller trades union and community events, offering its expertise to unions, local authorities and voluntary groups to ensure their events go smoothly.
The Bread & Roses in Clapham is the Company’s first pub, an award-winning free house in Clapham, where the ethos of the Company continues throughout the year. Staff in the pub are not volunteers like those on site, but are covered by a model union agreement for pub staff, negotiated with UNITE, offering staff proper sick pay, holiday pay and perhaps the best wage rate in the country.
For further information about the Workers Beer Company, CLICK HERE It now also uses EBC name.
March 2018 – a postponed meeting of Battersea and Wandsworth TUC with the Workers Beer Company discussed our complaint and agreed to raise the rate of renumeration for volunteer-hours from £7 to £8 for this year and to increase regularly in future.
Feb 2018 –We had discussions at our delegate meetings and decided not to continue working with the Workers Beer Company/EBC while they were paying below national minimum wage for the hours worked by our volunteers.
The rate paid was £7/hour and we have made complaints to the Wandsworth and Battersea TUC who own the Workers Beer Company previously and formally last November.
After 19 years of our trades union council sending teams to festivals via WBC we took the decision that we would no longer be working for the Workers Beer Company while the rate paid for volunteer work remained below the National Minimum Wage.
The income that have we received from our volunteers’ work at festivals has been the main source of our income for the last two decades, over £38k. We do not have any alternative funding other than the affiliation fees which we receive and this decision will severely affect our future work; so it is not a decision that we have taken lightly.
Our work as a trades union council involves promoting trade union membership and highlighting illegal employment practices. We are not prepared to be involved in an industry that relies on illegal pay rates
9 November 2017 – letter we sent to Battersea and Wandsworth TUC
Re Workers Beer Company/EBC volunteer pay rates and National Minimum Wage (NMW)
Dear brothers and sisters,
This was the 19th year that our trades union council has sent teams to festivals via WBC and we have been lucky to raise £38k over those years. I have personally volunteered for WBC for 26 years.
Our Delegate Meeting has discussed the hourly server rates paid by WBC/EBC, which your trades union council owns and asked me to raise the question in relation to the NMW.
When the National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999 after campaigning by the trade union movement, including yourselves, at £3.60 /hour, the WBC paid £5.25/hr to organisations for server volunteers.
1999 NMW £3.60 (22 yrs+) WBC £ 5.25 /hr
2001 NMW £3.70 WBC £ 5.60
2004 NMW £4.50 WBC £ 5.90
2007 NMW £5.35 WBC £ 6.50
2013 NMW £6.19 (21yrs+) WBC £ 6.50
2014 NMW £6.31 WBC £ 7.00
2016 NMW £7.20 (25yrs+) WBC £ 7.00
2017 NMW £7.50 WBC £ 7.00
For the last two years the rate has been below NMW rate.
We understand that the NMW laws are being bypassed since the servers are volunteers, but payment has always been linked to hourly wage rates paid to organisations.
When bids are put in for festival bars WBC/EBC is presumably competing against companies that employ and so are obliged to pay at least NMW rates. Is operating at below NMW wage rate for staff costs not unethical?
We queried the rate last year with WBC/EBC and noticed subsequently their Terms and Conditions were altered for 2017 to:
“WBC offers a valuable package to the registered organisations to facilitate their fundraising – for each hour the volunteers work the value to organisations is £10.50,(this includes transport to/from the event, two meals per day and to drinks when their shift has ended and £7.00 directly back to the organisation”.
The deal for volunteers has always been the same and I presume there would be problems with recruiting and onsite logistics if that were not the case.
We feel that this is underhand terminology to circumvent accusations of paying at below NMW.
The WBC used to pride itself on paying above industry rates for servers, there is no pride now in the current rate.
Incidentally, as we are outside London we have had to provide our own transport for all festivals we have ever worked at, except for Glastonbury festival when all servers are expected to use WBC coaches as part of its green credentials, presumably linked to the contract with WBC.
Would you agree that the current rates are inadequate and please raise the issue with the WBC/EBC?.
Given that he NMW is expected to rise to £8.05 April 2018, £8.50 in 2019, £9 in 2020, are there plans to raise the server rate accordingly?