The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
On Wednesday the 8 June the NDotM team headed down to parliament to take up the cause of unpaid internships. The rally was organised by Intern Aware, a group focused on fair access into the internship system, and the NUS. The protest was set to highlight the contribution interns make to the UK economy and called hundreds of interns down to the House of Commons to showcase their cause. The group had prepared an ‘Intern Bill of Rights’, standards that NUS, Intern Aware and Internocracy believe employers should follow and interns should expect to receive.
Afterwards everyone headed into parliament to a debate featuring Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation a book highlighting the culture of unpaid internships in the States, Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow and Tanya de Grunwald the voice behind whistle blowing website Graduate Fog. All spoke strongly against the unfair culture of unpaid interns and called for a clear distinction between prolonged unpaid internships which contravene minimum wage legislation and work experience, which allows people to gain some experience in a chosen field for up to six weeks. Tanya spoke about her work naming and shaming the worst employers on her blog and highlighted the issue that there is already a law in place to protect people from unpaid internships but it just simply isn’t enforced.
Lots of rallying stories were heard from unpaid interns, speaking out against their exploitation. One in particular stood out for us, Keri Hudson, who took her previous employer, My Village, to tribunal with the help of the NUJ after working for them for several weeks and not receiving payment.
The action comes on the day in which the Parliamentary Placement Scheme was launched, a new scheme to provide paid intern opportunities to people from more deprived backgrounds, headed by Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford. Each recipient will work for an MP for a whole parliamentary session and be paid the London living wage, £8.30 an hour, for their efforts. This schemes seems to spell the beginning of the end of a culture of exploitation seen by many undertaking internships within parliament. It is high time that this country’s lawmakers take notice of minimum wage legislation when hiring graduates for entry level positions.
We can only hope that by continuing to raising awareness on this issue we can help more young people into paid employment in the creative sector and we look forward to seeing where the Intern Aware campaign goes next.