Posts Tagged 'exploitation'

At an unpaid internship at a designer label

I was…

>> forced to work over 8 hours a day – sometimes over 10 hours a day (they made me sign a contract in which I had to agree with this)

>> given no payment, no meals, no accommodation, no transport money

>> forced to be available to work on public holidays and week-ends

>> given hard physical, mindless or non-educational work(such as tidying-up)

>>  not given proper training

>> advised by the supervisor not  to ask any questions related to their work as it disturbs them and makes me too nosey

>> not (in the least) to expect a job offer

>> to treat my employer with great kindness and gratitude

>> not even thanked for my work after working at least 480 hours for a profit making company

>> sent on dozens of errands lasting almost all day – even when it was pouring with rain at 10 degrees – with two 20kg heavy suitcases to pull

>> given a letter of recommendation that did not mention the tasks that I HAVE done, but those that I have NOT done(the tasks that were not offered to me in the first place)

>> given a letter of recommendation that makes it look like I have refused to do tasks given to me(which is not the case, since they were just not given to me) and underlines knowledge that I lack, rather that my skills and capabilities

>> after spending hard labour and at least over £1200(money for accommodation, transport and food) on this 3 month internship, giving the company valuable material to make profit on, I was given nothing to help further my career

Generally at this company:

>> when sick, interns still come to work and take painkillers as not to attract attention

>> many interns keep quiet about bad treatment and many hours of no sleep as not to ruin their career

>> the interns have no one to legally support them when they are not even given a decent letter of recommendation

The small UK company is a high fashion label of the fashion industry that “employs” about 15 interns per year. Its owner has only one permanent employee.

This is not only about no wages, but about bad immoral treatment, modern day slavery. I was treated with no respect and it made me feel worthless, even though I know they have gained so much from the work I have done for them. Is this humane? Is this legal?

We need to put an end to this! Please monitor internships and set-up a representative that fights for or rights and black lists such companies!

Also graduates suffer – they don’t find any paid jobs because of all the free labour…

To whoever sent this email in – do get in touch (as anonymously as you like) as we’d like to help you out

Graduate Fog strikes again- Dept of Business says interns not worth public money

In our coming-up-to-two years in this internsanonymous game many things have changed, Alex has a job and Rosy a research proposal, Gordon Brown is no longer Prime Minister and the delights of 3D cinema are ubiquitous. One thing, however, hasn’t changed- we still get contacted by interns who clearly should be getting paid and want to know if we can do anything to help them. They send emails to the HMRC, they call the national minimum wage helpline and, invariably, they don’t receive any help or any back up in their search for a wage that they are legally entitled to.

So this article over at Graduate Fog is depressing  but not altogether surprising. Tanya de Grunwald talked to a representative of the Department of Business. This is what they said regarding the exploitation of interns:

- Implied that prosecuting exploitative employers was too expensive and not “appropriate”, as most broke the law by accident.

- Dismissed concerns that the current NMW enforcement system fails to protect vulnerable interns.

- Disputed recent statistics showing the scale of the unpaid internships problem

- Claimed that the current penalties for those who break the law are an adequate deterrent to others who might be tempted to exploit interns.

- Suggested that a large number of interns are not entitled to the NMW – and that could partially explain why so few cases are brought against employers.

- Urged interns to take greater responsibility for the nature of the placement they sign up to.

- Showed no understanding of the complex reasons why reporting their unpaid placement is unappealing to most interns trying to impress their employer – and that this is not just about confidentiality.

To read the full article and give your opinion just click here.

Interns Beware

We got this letter in the mail…

There is an organisation called The Work Foundation whose ‘mission’ is to promote ‘good work for all’. One of The Work Foundation’s aims is ‘to improve the quality of working life’ but, unfortunately, they do not apply their own principles to their own organisation. The Work Foundation advertised a vacancy this September looking for ‘exceptional interns’ to work for them for three months at minimum wage; so ‘exceptional’ they stipulated that all candidates should have a research based Masters Degree in economics or in a field related to employment. The Work Foundation is taking advantage of present extraordinarily high graduate unemployment, to recruit over-qualified researchers to do work that their full time paid staff were doing, for minimum wage. Such ‘exceptional’ interns would have spent thousands of pounds on their Masters Degrees, all for the promise of minimum wage for three months. It is not ‘good work for all’, it is an example of outrageous hypocrisy and, what is worse, it is exploitation.

However, it is legal exploitation. Because they are paying minimum wage to their interns to do work that their staff would be paid a salary to do, they are not doing anything illegal. The most infuriating thing of all is that The Work Foundation is better than most intern exploiting organisations; at least they offer minimum wage.

The worst perpetrators of graduate exploitation are the policy makers, the politicians. Look on w4mp.org and you will see dozens of vacancies for unpaid internships advertised by politicians, all hungry to take advantage of the unemployment many protest so passionately about. Pick any such advert from a politician and I would bet a Parliamentary intern’s annual salary that politician will have at some point publically complained about income equality or social mobility or the poverty of aspiration or that most politicians are from middle class background and are not reflective of society. Those politicians are bigger hypocrites than The Work Foundation.  Ask yourself which section of society can most afford to work unpaid in London for up to six months, to be able gain sufficient experience to begin a career in politics? I can assure you it is not the poor.

A bunch of hypocrites?

Which is why I was encouraged that all the male Labour leadership candidates signed up to the ‘Intern Aware’ statement, declaring ‘I pledge that if I am elected leader of the Labour Party I will campaign for Labour’s Minimum Wage Act to be fully enforced so that employers must pay their interns what they are due.’ However I spoke to a graduate seeking a career in politics who is not an enthusiast of the ‘Interns Aware’ campaign. She worked on a Labour candidate’s leadership campaign and she told me that because the candidate “signed the ‘Interns Aware’ statement, I am classed as a ‘volunteer’ and not an intern – so now I can’t even claim travel and lunch expenses!” Belatedly the ‘volunteer’ was eventually offered expenses as the leadership race ended. Nevertheless I cannot help but think that Labour candidates signing up to ‘Intern Aware’ pledge and then changing the status of their ‘Interns’ to ‘Volunteers’, was hardly in the spirit of the pledge. However, it does very much fit into the spirit of hypocrisy that plagues politicians; the phrase ‘put your money where your mouth is’ remains to ring true.

Cut the costs of events: hire slaves!

I saw your website on the BBC news and would like to share my story:

After graduating in 2008 I began an internship with a London events organiser, which was advertised as a ’1-3 month position’. I started this placement in December 2008, and was told I would receive £100 per month in expenses. At the end of the month I went home for a week for Christmas. I strongly feel, both then and now, that I shouldn’t have to justify my reasons for deciding during that week that I could no longer afford to continue with the placement. In the New Year I called my ‘employer’ to tell them as such, and found myself apologising and grovelling for having ‘let them down’. A few days later I sent an email asking what the arrangements were for receiving my expenses for December. I was told that I would not be able to receive any expenses as I had not completed the internship.

At the time I was upset and humiliated, and tried to forget the experience. I now realise that, under law, this amounted to a three-month contract and I should have been paid the National Minimum Wage. Instead, I was exploited at a time when I was helpless and vulnerable, and was not able to stand up for my rights.

The Romans found that slaves were a great way to cut the cost of their decadent lifestyle


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.

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