David Cameron was accused of ‘gross insensitivity’ last night after it was revealed that internships with City hedge funds were sold to wealthy Tories’ children for thousands of pounds to raise cash for the party.
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.
Amazing Day for Precarious Workers Brigade and Carrot Workers!
London Precarious Workers Brigade targets the irresponsible defunding of public services.
In response to the recent intensification of neoliberal attacks on the welfare state and public sphere in the UK, precarious workers in culture and education are organising and taking action. In the context of the Fund Our Future Demonstration against cuts to higher education, the Precarious Workers Brigade are targeting institutions and individuals who have made false promises about the future. A party of individuals donning donkey masks ceremoniously deposited the large papier-mache carrots as “a classic symbol of empty promises posed as incentives”. They declared: “We are returning the Graduate Job Carrot to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) with the message that this carrot actually means £40k+ debt. We are returning the Big Society Carrot to Tory HQ with a thank you for abandoning us. We are returning the Career Carrot to the Department of Work and Pensions with the fact of 18% youth unemployment.”
The Precarious Workers Brigade demands include Equal Pay (no more free labour), Free Education (end student debt), and citing Lord Browne the former CEO of BP who led the recent Review of University funding, they call for Democratic Institutions and an end to unelected and un-mandated leaders. Confronting the proclaimed ‘Big Society’, the Brigade demands common ownership of public space, resources and ideas.
Workshops and actions continue throughout this week (see below) & beyond.
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.
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
The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not
With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.
Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.
Many regulators say that violations are widespread, but that it is unusually hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.
“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.
Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for internships to be unpaid. Among those criteria are that the internship should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities — in other words, it’s largely a benevolent contribution to the intern. Continue reading
By Michael Skapinker, Financial Times, July 27 2009
If you work in the law, advertising or the media, this is the time of year when friends, contacts and people you barely know ask if you can give one of their children a job.
Not a real job – a temporary position, at no pay, as an intern.
Internships were not around when I was starting out. Summer jobs, if you could find them, were paid: waiting on tables, serving behind counters or sorting the mail.
Today, however, many young people believe they have no chance of getting anywhere without a couple of stints of unpaid work behind them. Continue reading