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On charities and unpaid interns in volunteers’ clothing

28 Jun

You have to be rich to work for a charity now,” an intern told me recently. “I’m passionate about helping others but after six months of unpaid work it’s a luxury I can’t afford any more. So I’m giving up to do something else.”

This intern is one of a growing number of graduates reporting that the third sector is following politics, fashion and media in requiring its young workers to perform months of unpaid work – “internships” – before they will be considered for their first paid role. Those who can’t fund this period (six to 12 months is the norm) say they are being “priced out” of pursuing a career in this sector. […]

Read more in today’s Guardian Comment is Free promoting the Intern Aware campaign.

Another story showing how internships reproduce systems of privilege and filter out poorer individuals from certain sectors, no matter how educated or passionate they are. And back to our point that hiding unpaid internships under the guise of  “voluntary work” doesn’t really change the substance of an unfair system…as the article says:

Nobody can live for free – so it is unfair to expect them to work for free. Even if it is for a good cause.


Imagine a day without interns ~ Wednesday 8 June, 12-2pm

3 Jun

The Carrot Workers call all interns, ex-interns, teachers and cultural workers to join in

*next Wednesday 8 June 12-2pm*

outside the House of Commons

The NUS, ULU, Unite, Intern Aware, Internocracy, Interns Anonymous, The Intergenerational Foundation, and Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, are calling on politicians from all parties to urgently address the issue of exploitative internships not only within parliament but in all sectors — arts and culture included!

More from the Facebook event page :

“Wednesday 8 June will see the launch of the speaker’s parliamentary placement scheme – a cross-party initiative to create a number of paid internship positions in Parliament for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We welcome the new scheme to open up parliament, but we must recognise that urgent action is needed by Government to tackle the ever growing problem of unpaid and underpaid internships, where hundreds of thousands of young people work are exploited in roles that often breaking the law and should be paid.

More on ULU campaigner blog including the full text of Ross Perlin’s INTERN BILL OF RIGHTS:

We proclaim this INTERN BILL OF RIGHTS as a common standard by which to evaluate and improve internships for the benefit of interns, employers, and society as a whole:

Article 1: All interns deserve fair compensation for their work, usually in the form of wages and sometimes in the form of dedicated training.

Article 2: Interns are entitled to the same legal protections as all other workers, and should not be subject to discrimination, harassment, or arbitrary dismissal. Continue reading

Will Artjobs reintroduce free labour ads :-( ?

29 Apr

[This article was originally posted on 29.4.2011. We have received a few emails and comments that demanded a recognition of the efforts of the Arts Council to enforce legal requirements surrounding unpaid positions. We have now amended the post below and clarified our point. Thanks to all who took the time to write to us.]

Last summer we were thrilled to report that the Arts Council put a stop to advertisements of unpaid positions through their webpage Artjobs. After a few months, however, a disclaimer appeared which refers to the current ambiguous legislation around internships and volunteering (see at the end of this post). We have been told that there has been no increase in unpaid ads since then, which is great news, yet we feel that the position taken by Artjobs is still not strong enough, and could be seen as a step towards the return of unpaid internships under the guise of voluntary positions, especially given the recent promotion of voluntarism by the coalition government.

As we have written elsewhere, the question of free labour cannot be resolved by appealing to Minimum Wage Regulations alone, especially in a sector that relies upon personal relationships and informal agreements. There is a sense that the AC is shying away from confronting the contradiction between the decrease in funding opportunities and the demand to keep up the facade of a thriving cultural sector that is often supported through low levels of pay and overwork. Continue reading

HM Revenue&Customs not doing enough to stop illegal unpaid internships

8 Apr

We recommend that the government takes steps to raise awareness of the rules applying to payment of the national minimum wage for those undertaking internships, all other forms of work experience and volunteering opportunities. In addition we recommend that these rules are effectively enforced by HMRC”

says the Low Pay Commission 2011 Report

See also yesterday’s article on the Guardian.

Cashback for media interns

11 Feb

It might be old news to some, but we have only just come across this campaign of the National Union of Journalists – London Freelance Branch which enables media interns to claim back the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in line with the ruling of Reading Employment Tribunal in November 2009 on the case of Nicola Vetta.

The NMW is still only limited to interns who are 21 or over, and unfortunately does not apply to students on work experience placement (which we feel is the first place where the culture of free labour is established and internalised) but it’s still a good place to start from!

Stella McCartney PR man threatens unpaid interns with legal action for complaining

8 Feb

the nakendess here represents how much you earn working for stella mc cartney.

Private Eye  1281, 4-17 feb 2011
Stella McCartney can’t afford to pay interns who work for her for months at a time – but she can afford to pay a PR man to threaten legal action against those who complain.

Continue reading

Chasing the carrot: Is science a precarious profession?

28 Aug

Here’s an interesting short text published by a student at Jena University called Matthias Nies, which looks at the ways in which ‘carrots’ function to drive precarious working practices not just in the field of culture but also in academia. It’s a pretty useful and relevant text, using some 6 Theses on Pracarious work by Manuel Castels to talk about the university – the text was published in a Journal for young academics last winter.

image from our sister collective 'nine to five' in hamburg

image from our sister collective 'nine to five' in hamburg

It’s in german unfortunately, except for a blurb (below). Great impulse for thinking around a double critique of the university as a site of reproduction of precarious labour not just for various supercompetitive job markets (such as the arts) but also as the exemplary site of carrot work in itself (addressing its research cultures and forms of employment).

Chasing the carrot
Is science a precarious profession?

Scientific work is characterized by a certain kind of abeyance. On the one hand scientific workers have a highly autonomous workplace, find their work to be meaningful and themselves to be professionals. On the other hand they have to live with financial insecurity and unclear prospects for a very long time. This profile lets one ask for the precarious potential of scientific work. This text aligns central findings of the scientific investigation of precariousness and in a first approach corre- lates them with the characteristics of science. It becomes obvious that the subjective procession of material and institutional risks of precariousness lead to a dominant pattern of individual problem solving and forbearance which constrains the apperception of options for collective action.

Neis M: Chasing the carrot – is science a precarious profession? German Journal for Young Re- searchers 2009/1(1)
Full german text here

URN: urn:nbn:de:0253-2009-1-90