Archive for January, 2011

MPs accused of exploiting unpaid interns

Our trusty survey of unpaid parliamentary interns has finally had an outing in the national press! A Times article looking at MP’s abuse of unpaid interns referenced its findings. Massive thanks to all who took part. We promise to run further surveys in coming weeks and months.

If you are a Times subscriber you can access the article here. This is what it said about us:

A survey of recent unpaid parliamentary interns by Interns Anonymous, a website set up to support interns, found that two thirds did not even have their expenses covered and 28 per cent undertook tasks that they did not feel comfortable doing.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) said that they were obliged to work set hours, which could mean that their employer was in breach of minimum wage legislation

Labour Peer wants unpaid child-minder (er…. intern)

New Labour peer Bryony Worthington is looking for an unpaid intern. A free researcher for a few days a week. What’s particularly amusing is that the candidate must “be energetic and like children!” Is she looking for an unpaid child-minder? “Bryony recently became a mother for the first time. She is looking for someone to act as her assistant as she juggles these three important roles.” More importantly how does this square with her leader Ed Miliband’s desire to see a living wage? Or indeed a London wage? Send a CV or a scolding email to bryonyworthington@gmail.com

With graduate unemployment at its highest rate for over a decade she really should be setting an example. By not paying interns you are only inhibiting social mobility and entrenching a system in which the rich and well connected can get ahead. As a Labour peer I would hope she understands this.

Songs for interns #2 Sam Cooke – Chain Gang

Our second song for an interns playlist… Sam Cooke’s brilliant Chain Gang. Please keep your suggestions coming in.

How can a museum with a public subsidy of £40m and self-generated income of £30m get away with not paying their interns at least NMW?!

The museum in question is the Victoria & Albert museum.

They expect their intern to work for them at least six months, four days per week, seven hours a day.

What makes this job advert so interesting is the brazen acknowledgement of the current problems graduates and finding when trying to secure jobs in the arts. They write:

However, with jobs in the cultural sector at a premium, and many graduate students unable to secure job interviews without demonstrable work experience, the experience offered through this internship is invaluable, and past interns have gone on to secure a variety of posts in the cultural sector.

Is this a threat? Is it goading? Are they saying that without this internship you won’t be able to get your dream job? Positions like these only perpetuate the problem!

The advert can be found here: V&A Internship.

Victoria and Albert - hardly a work of art themselves.

Victoria and Albert - hardly a work of art themselves.

Songs for interns #1 The Clash – Career Opportunities

Songs for interns #1. Further suggestions of videos to post very welcome in the comments.

The offered me the office, offered me the shop

They said I’d better take anything they’d got

Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?

Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

You might have noticed a post go missing from this blog recently

Well… for the first time in our 2 year history interns anonymous has been threatened with legal action!

We have taken the offending blog down  for the good of the intern… who was also threatened.  Threatened by the Global Director of Comms no less.

This is all we are going to say at this stage.

Parliamentary intern mentoring scheme

Does my CV sound ok? Help, I don’t know what a statutory instrument is?! Where is the Table Office?

Unite Parliamentary Staff Branch are re-establishing the Parliamentary intern mentoring scheme and there will be an introductory meeting for interns interested in participating in the scheme on Thursday 13th January in Room M, Portcullis House from 12.30-13.30.

If interns who are interested in attending the meeting could email Shelley at shelley.phelps@parliament.uk so that we can get a feel for numbers that would be great. If you are an intern in the constituency and would like to take part in the scheme then you can sign up via email and we will put you on the list to be assigned a mentor.

Anyone who works for an MP and is interested in becoming a mentor should also email shelley at the above address.

Looking forward to meeting you on the 13th.

Shelley, Nick and Mili

Paid not Played

The fantastic protest choir Paid not Played have released a video of their rehearsals.

Does Simon Hughes care about social mobility?

Errr no. What a big fat hypocrite. The other day he was saying universities should limit the number of kids from private schools offered places… but what about the income bracket of those that work for him?

Only those that can afford to work for free need apply.



Interns Anonymous’ review of 2010… and a look forward to 2011

I know it’s a bit late, but we wanted to share some of the highlights of 2010, and look forward to 2011.

During the past 12 months we’ve had a letter printed in the Times, met with both the Low Pay Commission (who investigate violations of the minimum wage) and the TUC, appeared on a 5-Live radio phone-in, were featured in a double page spread in the Daily Mail and got name-checked in a book – Shiv Malik and Ed Hawkers’ fantastic Jilted Generation.

More importantly we have heard from hundreds more interns about their experiences. Sadly the situation for graduates and unpaid workers doesn’t seem to be getting better.

A new government has come in and thus far have not shown an interest in internships. Nick Clegg did mention interns during the election campaign – a crack-pot idea to create 50,000 internships for unemployed young people. This was our most-read post during over the past year.

The graduate unemployment rate is still rising and tuition fees are set to increase – with no debate about the value of university education in getting a job.

Nick Clegg, worried about his liberal credentials in a Tory dominated government – has been given his own policy unit, with a special focus on social mobility. We wait with baited breath to see whether internships get a look in.

Some things are improving – more journalists are talking about the issue (even if their own newspapers continue to use unpaid interns), and some interns are standing up for themselves. The Independent is being sued by a combination of the NUJ and an intern who thought he should be paid for the several months work he did. Good luck to them, and we hope this sets a precedent for many more interns and ex interns.

Our second most popular post was also a newspaper intern horror story – this time from the Sunday Times.  Our third most popular post detailed the experiences of interns at Proud Galleries. We have had a great response from other interns who have worked there, all the clichéd stuff – standing in for cleaning staff, no flexibility for interns with financial difficulties, unpleasant working environment. But some of our other posts have happy endings- lots of interns who have written to us go on to get jobs somewhere down the line and, luckily for us, some are inspired to keep speaking up about their experiences- so if you are interning, don’t despair!

What about our hopes for 2011? We are looking forward to a hard-hitting Low Pay Commission report in the next few months: something that really makes ministers understand the problems in the graduate job market. We also hope more young people will start saying enough is enough. We have had protests on the streets about student fees. But what about jobs? Or house prices? We hope everyone who cares- young and old- will become more emboldened, and a bit more organised.  Otherwise nothing will change.

And our site? We will continue to plug away. Trying to get this issue in the newspapers, exposing bad practise and posting up your experiences.

We would also like this site to become a bit more personal. We’ll start posting under our own names, say a bit more about ourselves and our graduate experiences – and if anyone else wants to get on board…we really would welcome the help.

Happy new year!

Alex and Rosy


Interns Anonymous

We want this website to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment. Most importantly, we want this site to be a place where YOU can tell us your story.

Disclaimer

Interns Anonymous accept no responsibility for the contents of the blog, comments or any other content on this site that is posted or provided by third parties. This website is designed to act as a forum for interns to share experiences and opinions about their work, therefore, we will not censor opinions we do not agree with. The opinions stated in blog contributions do not represent those of Interns Anonymous. We disclaim all liability for such content to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have any queries please email us.

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