Edinburgh has become a centre of tech work. But it’s hard to build collectives in development and design when so many projects are dispersed and disparate. Working with Prospect and other unions, workers in the Tech Guild are exploring what it would mean to monitor and even regulate employment, pay, and conditions in Edinburgh tech.
Workers in software development, design, and data often work independently, dispersed across the city, sometimes without security and confidence that pay and conditions are fair. The start-up incubator Codebase, DataLab industry innovation centre, and Edinburgh City Deal all support employers to link up and get the employees they need. On the other side of the coin, the Tech Guild is exploring how to support one another to get more security, support, and satisfaction in work.
In centuries past, when skilled freelance workers arrived in a city they first made contact with the guild or society of workers, and companies in the city could only hire their employees through these organisations. This meant contracts and conditions were regulated and transparent. What would the benefits be for workers if vacancies in Edinburgh tech used this model? What could we set as a baseline agreement to protect and support workers? How could we use this influence to level the playing field? How could it enable representation for workers of colour? For LGBTQ+ workers? For disabled workers? For those who come from all quarters of the city?
Across the world, digital and dev workers are cooperating to pool resources and capacities, and to arrange their work so that the benefits come back to them rather than boosting profits of agencies or private companies. It works in France. Could a workers’ cooperative allow tech workers to take control in Scotland’s capital? Could it add structure, equaliy, and community to the world of freelance work?
Pay Level Monitor
In Silicon Valley, workers have access to a site to monitor pay rates at Amazon, Facebook, Google and tech companies across the globe. The site relies on contributions by workers, and can be filtered by company and grades of work – but is focussed on individual contract negotiation, and the data encourages jumping from one company to the next to get the best pay. What would a collective-focussed version of this project look like? What would it take to reveal and monitor pay – including gender pay divides – at a city level? How would it help not only new hires get paid fairly and equally, but allow existing employees to work together to improve pay, conditions, and equality?CG