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Unions vote against unpaid internships

Entertainment unions BECTU and the Musicians’ Union have had their joint motion against unpaid internships passed at the Trade Union Congress Young Members’ Conference.

At the conference, which took place at the weekend, the two bodies requested that the TUC Young Members’ Forum delivers a prolonged campaign to lobby the government to ban advertisements for unpaid work.

They also asked for renewed pressure to be put on HM Revenue and Customs to ensure that organisations pay a fair living wage to anyone undertaking work that benefits that employer.

Emily Stewart, MU regional officer for the east and south- east of England, said: “We were overwhelmed with the support shown to the motion, not only from the other Federation of Entertainment Unions, but also from Unite and Prospect.

“In total, seven young people got up and spoke in support of the motion, and there was clear consensus from all present that this is an issue that needed addressing.”

She added: “Unfortunately, it was not the motion selected to go through to the TUC to be discussed at conference, but the winning motion from Public and Commercial Services Union and Unite encompassed many of our concerns in their ‘Fair pay for Young Workers’, and we feel confident that the issues surrounding unpaid internships and the undervaluing of young workers will be addressed in its details.

“We will continue to keep in contact with the TUC about the issues surrounding unpaid internships. On the morning of the conference, the TUC published a new report on the proliferation of unpaid internships, so we feel there is particular synergy at this time as to our purposes.”

As part of the proposed campaign, BECTU and the MU called for more publicity to be given to the need for a national minimum wage payment to all workers, as well as fairer treatment for interns during the job application process.

The unions want the TUC to enforce employment regulations for interns that include ensuring interview processes are made fairer so that equal opportunities are given to applicants regardless of their economic background.