Poll: is volunteering exploitation?

Hogmanay crop

Organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay bash have come under fore for using volunteers.

There was a row this week when politicians and campaign groups claimed that Edinburgh’s world famous Hogmanay celebrations will be built on the exploitation of volunteers.

Event organisers Underbelly advertised for 300 unpaid positions at the world famous end of year bash. It wants people to work for free as “ambassadors” and dancers.

However, anti-exploitation and low pay group Better Than Zero said a private company asking people to put in a shift for nothing is "morally unacceptable”.

This was backed by Labour and Green MSPs.

However, Underbelly defended its use of volunteers, and said they will not be used to replace paid staff.

The row underlines a tension in volunteering, which is essential to the work of the third sector, but where working for free can potentially tip over into exploitation. Is there a difference when charities use volunteers, as opposed to private companies?

That’s why we are asking: is volunteering exploitation?

Vote now and get the discussion going by leaving a comment below.

Graham Martin's photo

1st December 2017 by Graham Martin 4 Comments

Is volunteering exploitation?

Poll results (total votes: 147)

Is volunteering exploitation?

1st December 2017 by Alastair

In relation to the recent news about Hogmonay this question is pretty misleading. I think the actual issue is a profit making organisation using Volunteers, not volunteering in general.

3rd December 2017 by Lara

Do you mean volunteering in the Third Sector or in the private sector as I think it would produce different answers? It does not seem that volunteering generally is what this article is highlighting.

5th December 2017 by Sharon

I myself choose to volunteer which built my confidence and allowed me to give back to my community through a local charity, of which I am now senior administrator / bookkeeper 7 years on and studying towards to a management degree. Now my 16 year old son volunteers on his school holidays through choice, gaining admin and childcare experience - he could also choose to go out and waste his holidays hanging about the streets - but HE chooses not too and he values his time with his colleagues and the community, he knows he has contributed to!!

24th March 2019 by Annon

I have volunteered for three years for a very large organisation and I am still not employed. I dont do someones job I do help with there job to take the load off them. Last week things changed with different manager and I have been given lots of photo copying to do? I am starting to feel Im being taken advantage of now.