The end is nigh for unpaid internships
On Monday the TUC, NUS and intern campaign groups launched a year of activity aimed at finally ending the practice of non-payment of people on internships. Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady for the TUC and Dannie Grufferty, VP Society & Citizenship, for the NUS formally launched the campaign. We were joined by Hazel Blears MP, Michelle Stanistreet General Secretary of the NUJ and Gus Baker from Interns Aware. Interns past and present made up a significant proportion of the audience and a number shared their (mainly bad) experiences (being told to walk your ’employer’s’ dog and clean up its mess anyone??!!).
Our campaign will put pressure on employers by naming and shaming those who willfully break the law and exploit interns – the NUS will be targeting employers who use student employment agencies. Unions and the TUC will be making sure that interns not only know their rights but just as importantly, have a way of enforcing them. The TUC will be launching its Rights for Interns smart phone app via the Apple and Android App Stores at the end of March.
We’ll also be continuing to demand that the National Minimum Wage regulations are enforced and that the agencies charged with doing this are given more resources and some teeth. And as well as exposing the bad employers, we’ll be highlighting and praising the good ones who pay their interns and supporting initiatives such as the Speakers Parliamentary Placements Scheme.
Unpaid internships create a opportunities for the few at the expense of the many. Too many employers, when they advertise for interns, are still getting away with what are in effect notices of intent to exploit. And too many interns face a like it or lump it dilemma when even the small chance of a career comes with the cost of a prolonged period of exploitation.
On Monday we gave notice that the end is nigh for this very real form of modern day slavery. Employers, if they have any sense, will get wise and start paying their interns. Now!