Law student complaints kill Day of Pay campaign

A fundraiser asking University of Toronto law students with paid summer jobs to donate a day of their wages to those in unpaid roles has been cancelled, following backlash over whether the initiative targeted the right pocketbooks.

In an email circulated to the school on Wednesday, the Students’ Law Society acknowledged that “recent controversy” over its #OneDayofPay campaign had “made it impossible for the Pledge Drive to fulfill its purpose of building community or to raise the required funds to achieve its goals.”

The initiative, led by the Students’ Law Society with faculty support, originally aimed to raise money for aspiring lawyers in unpaid positions with social-justice oriented organizations. But as reported by the Star last week, the fundraiser prompted some students to ask why young people should subsidize salaries rightfully paid by employers.

“They’re sort of suggesting that the people who should fix the problem of unpaid work are students rather than employers that are getting people to work for free and getting the benefit of that work,” said Ella Henry, a third-year law student at the school.

The idea was also panned by U of T Law’s student newspaper, Ultravires, which published a sharply worded editorial decrying the Pledge Drive in the context of mounting tuition fees and student debt.

“Under the new regime there is but one solution to every possible problem. Salaries too low? Raise tuition. Articling alternative law practice program underfunded? Bill the students. Students’ employment rights being violated? Ask their classmates to make up the difference,” the paper’s editor-in-chief David Gruber wrote.

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03/05/law-student-complaints-kill-day-of-pay-campaign.html

Unpaid internships at magazines new target of Ontario labour ministry

Two of Canada’s highest profile magazines have been told by the Ontario Ministry of Labour to immediately end their internship programs after complaints about unfair labour practices.

The Walrus and Toronto Life magazines will shut down their programs on Friday, after an inspector from the ministry informed the publications that their programs, which brought in aspiring journalists, designers, and others for temporary unpaid stints, contravened the Employment Standards Act.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/unpaid-internships-at-magazines-new-target-of-ontario-labour-ministry/article17694055/

‘It’s just exploitation’: Backlash against unpaid internships growing

 

OTTAWA — Nicholas Smith is a 22-year-old Torontonian, working on his second unpaid internship after graduating from the University of Toronto last year with an ethics degree.

Working without pay for months — and sometimes years — after graduating triumphantly wasn’t exactly what Smith and his friends had in mind when they toiled away along the path to what they believed was a bright future.

“I am working with people who’ve done their masters degrees, and definitely there’s an emotional toll in having to work for free,” said Smith, whose current unpaid internship is at a Toronto-based think-tank as a foreign policy analyst.

End Unpaid Internships, Urges Social Mobility Tsar Alan Milburn

The UK government’s social mobility tsar has called on professional employers to axe unpaid internships in order to ensure fair access to Britain’s top jobs.

Labour MP Alan Milburn argued, as part of an agenda to tackle the plight of the “forgotten middle class”, that the growth in professional employment is not creating a new “social mobility dividend” for the UK.

Milburn, writing for New Labour pressure group Progress, claimed that Britain’s top jobs are dominated by a “social elite” and unpaid internships go to young people on the basis of “who, not what, you know” as well as disadvantaging people from backgrounds who cannot afford to work for free.

“Nearly one-third of MPs, more than half of top journalists, and 70% of high court judges went to independent schools, though only 7% of the population do so,” Milburn stressed. “This is social engineering on a grand scale.”

The influential MP also called for the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.31 ($10.15, €7.52) per hour for over 21s, to be increased.

“The working poor are the forgotten people of Britain,” Milburn said. “They need a new deal. The minimum wage is worth £1,000 less in real terms today than it did in 2008.”

Milburn also suggested, among other things, that colleges should receive performance based pay rather than recruitment number, and that the “best teachers” who work in the “worst schools” across the country should have a pay increase.

“It is in Britain’s DNA that everyone should have a fair chance in life. Yet too often demography is destiny. Over decades we have become a wealthier society but we have struggled to become a fairer one,” he said.

Milburn’s comments come just a day after Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband delivered a keynote speech in London which set out a wide-ranging platform and was tipped as the official start of his party’s election campaign.

 

 

Slavery returns: Toronto college students clean tubs for nothing

 

When a Vancouver luxury hotel placed an ad seeking unpaid interns to bus tables last month, there was public outcry.

But using unpaid interns in the hospitality industry is widespread in the GTA as well. Some spend a semester changing pot pourri and scrubbing floors. While many interns gained meaningful experience, others found themselves doing menial tasks for nothing.

Samantha May, now 21, found herself cleaning rooms, including toilets, at an airport hotel for three months in 2011. She was required to clean 16 rooms a day, just like paid housekeeping staff.

“There were days I didn’t want to get up in the morning, mostly because I wasn’t getting paid. It’s like, ‘I don’t have to do this.’ ”

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/10/14/unpaid_interns_toronto_college_students_clean_tubs_for_nothing.html

 

 

Unpaid interns not protected from sexual harassment

 

A New York federal district court ruled last week that Lihuan Wang, an intern at a TV broadcaster named Phoenix Satellite Television U.S., could not bring a sexual harassment claim under New York human rights laws because she was not paid, and therefore not considered an employee.

Wang was a graduate student at Syracuse University in 2009 when she interned in the New York bureau of Phoenix Satellite Television, the American subsidiary of Hong Kong-based media conglomerate Phoenix Media Group.

In a lawsuit, she said the station’s Washington D.C. bureau chief Zhengzhu Liu sexually harassed her after luring her to his hotel room on the pretext that he wanted to talk about her job performance and the possibility of hiring her full time.

When the two were alone, Wang alleged that Liu threw his arms around the then 22-year-old intern, tried to kiss her and “squeezed her buttocks with his left hand.” After she refused to let him go any further and left the hotel, she said Liu no longer expressed interest in permanently hiring her.

New York Judge Kevin Castel ruled that Wang can’t assert these claims, because as an unpaid intern, she didn’t have the status of an employee.

“It is uncontested that Wang received no remuneration for her services,” Castel wrote. “New York City’s Human Rights Law’s protection of employees does not extend to unpaid interns.”

 

http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/09/news/economy/unpaid-intern-sexual-harassment/index.html

 

censorship: BBC Breakfast rejects guest over her views on unpaid internships

The founder of a website that provides careers advice to graduates claims she was dropped from a BBC TV programme because she refused to abide by a legal request about what she should and should not say.

Tanya de Grunwald, who runs the Graduate Fog site, was booked to appear on BBC Breakfast last Friday to talk about unpaid internships.

On Thursday evening, some half an hour after catching the Manchester-bound train from London at the BBC’s expense, she was called by a researcher questioning what she was prepared to say.

This was followed up by an email from a producer, who wrote:

“We cannot infer that… any employer is breaking the law by not paying interns – this has been absolutely specified by the BBC duty lawyer.

We are asking you to comment on the wider point about whether internships should routinely be paid regardless of current law.”

De Grunwald responded by arguing that many employers are breaking the law by not paying interns, and that it was important viewers knew that.

The producer, says de Grunwald, insisted that she had been advised by the BBC’s duty lawyer that this “claim” was only an “opinion”.

So de Grunwald attempted to explain the minimum wage law in some detail. The unconvinced producer then asked her if she would say something positive during her interview on the show, such as how unpaid internships can be a good thing because they add experience to a young person’s CV.

De Grunwald refused and, after the wrangle – when her train was just 10 minutes away from Manchester – the producer left a voicemail saying she was “terribly sorry” but the “editorial decision from on high” was that “we won’t be able to proceed with the interview as planned tomorrow morning”.

So de Grunwald ended up spending a night at Salford Media City Holiday Inn (double room fee: £109). The train ticket cost a further £79.

“On the up-side,” she told me, “I enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast the next day.”

She said: “The BBC’s coverage of the issue of unpaid internships is routinely appalling – they minimise and trivialise every development that happens, it’s infuriating.”

Update: The BBC emailed a statement by a spokesperson at 8pm: “On some occasions it is decided, for editorial reasons, to stand down a guest.

“On this occasion the decision was made close the time of broadcast and for this we have apologised to the guest. The decision was made to interview MP Hazel Blears who’s currently campaigning in parliament on this issue.

“The item also featured a case study of a former intern. We then challenged Hazel Blears on her stance and explored some of the issues around internships, including payment.”

 

http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2013/sep/23/bbc-graduates