Friday, October 19, 2012

The interns strike back -- British magazine settles for minimum wage

The British magazine NOW, published by IPC has paid out a settlement to one of its interns after she petitioned to be paid minimum wage for her work. The company disputed the term "internship" but essentially acknowledged that the young woman who was supposed to be getting a month's work experience had instead been stuck doing work that should have been paid. According to a story in the Guardian,
A 27-year-old graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design who wanted to be known by her middle name, Anita, said she had been paid around £750 for a one-month internship last year at NOW.
Anita said that although she attended a few fashion shoots, she spent most of her time working in a stockroom "packing and unpacking" clothes with another intern.
"It wasn't what I signed up to do … Generally you weren't treated very well."
She added that she was shown the ropes by one intern and didn't meet management staff until a week into the placement. She then went on to train her intern replacement.
The case was one of several that resulted in settlements -- including one from a major U.S. media conglomerate -- brought after Justice for Interns, run by jobs website Graduate Fog and Intern Aware, took up their cause. (The settlements weren't restricted to magazines. Last year, government lawyers warned the British government that minimum wage rules were being flouted in so-called "work experience" at many companies.)

Tanya de Grunwald, founder of Graduate Fog and one of the organisers of the campaign said:
"These payouts are hugely significant for our campaign against unpaid internships.
"Companies are realising they don't have the right to unlimited free labour just because someone is young and desperate for experience. After years of being downtrodden and voiceless, interns are finding the courage to stand up to the tight-fisted employers who thought they could get something for nothing without any repercussions.
"Interns contact us every day with new stories – some of whom have worked for very famous companies and individuals – so we look forward to more victories like this in the next few weeks. It's going to get ugly."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great news. Hopefully we see these same lawsuits in Canada, with new laws being enacted.

6:54 pm  

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