Saturday, 24 July 2010

Diane in new hypocrisy claim? Unpaid interns

Interns Anonymous has reported that Labour leadership contenders will sign a petition from InternAware to force employers to pay interns a minimum wage... but they don't except Diane Abbott to be one of them.

According to Interns Anonymous, Diane may have several unpaid interns working for her. The site claimed to have spoken to one who had worked, unpaid, for 18 months before getting a job.

Interns Anonymous said: "Real justice there Diane, you hypocrite."

I'm waiting to see if Diane has a response to these allegations - but I've only just emailed her to find out.

Diane has campaigned on employment issues.

In this statement to the Unions she said:

"Ensuring we have a living wage is extremely important. Working hard should mean being able to provide for your family and lead a decent standard of living – not living on the breadline.

"Implementing a living wage doesn't only benefit the employees. It improves staff loyalty and boosts morale, and therefore productivity. It also reduces training and recruitment costs, which is overall better value for money for employers.

"I would support introducing legislation to ensure that government tenders are not able to be taken up by contractors who are not prepared to pay a living wage to their staff.

"As a party, we must lead by example and those who are not willing to offer a decent wage for a decent day’s work, should not benefit from government contracts.

Here is an old advert for an unpaid internship in Diane's office: http://www.w4mp.org/html/personnel/jobs/disp_job.asp?ref=15020

It said: "Some of the work will be interesting, while some of it will be more mundane."
It also asked for: "Excellent IT and communication skills."

Despite being boring and requiring excellent skills, the advert said the internship: "is voluntary and will not be used to cover duties otherwise performed by a paid employee."

Interns Anonymous has a picture of Labour Candidate Andy Burnham holding up a signed pledge. This appears to come from a campaign called Intern Aware that is also endorsed by Labour Students and the media union Bectu.

The picture is on InternAware's blog which lists organisations and individuals who oppose unpaid internships including Barack Obama and the IPPR.

According to the site, the Low Pay Commission reported in March that “growing evidence of abuse” exists with a “growing number of people undertaking ‘work’ but excluded from the minimum wage. It said there are "tens of thousands of people with the talent to become leaders in these fields. However, their chances of success are limited because they can’t afford to work for free."

Last year Interns Anonymous reported on Tory MP Philip Hammond, now Secretary of State for Transport. Hammond replied that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to pay people to do work that could be done for free.

Other news:

The Daily Mail reports on Hackney Council's £400,000 taxi cab bill - I was sure I'd seen a very similar story to this somewhere else in the last couple of weeks, but can't remember where.


4 comments:

  1. Laurie Penny has written a couple of good pieces about internships - she's spent the last few years breaking into journalism, which also has a strong culture of getting bright young people to work for zero financial reward.

    Apparently some places are even auctioning internships now (for charity, but it still blocks the career prospects of people from poor backgrounds in the same way that the lack of pay does):

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2010/07/work-priced-young-life

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  2. There are employers who genuinely can't afford to pay those who want to work for them, those who could but seem to choose not to, and those where further investigation seems necessary. But the behaviour of a volunteer who agrees to work for nothing, and then goes on to anonymously attack their employer for this is surely questionable, as is the overall value of their work.

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  3. According to this Intern Aware press release here, Diane Abbott has signed up...

    http://www.internaware.org/blog

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