May Day - end unpaid work!
THE NUJ will be at the annual May Day commemoration - this is on Tuesday 1 May (and not on the subsequent similarly-named Bank Holiday). NUJ London Freelance Branch in particular will be highlighting its Cashback for Interns campaign and issues around unpaid work experience in the media industry.
The "official" trade unions' May Day march leaves from Clerkenwell Green at noon on May Day with a march to Trafalgar Square, for a rally at which NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet will be among the star speakers. (see PDF flyer.)
The more "unofficial" end of May Day 2012 will include actions around the theme of End Unpaid Work, protesting recent outrages around compulsory unpaid "work experience" for the unemployed, apparently under threat of withdrawal of benefits, new lower minimum wages for apprentices, welfare-to-work providers being investigated for alleged abuses, etc.
Our own industry has its issues with unpaid work. Young media workers entering the profession are increasingly expected to do more and more unpaid internships of ever-longer duration, with the prospect of later going into a real paid job diminishing. Some media enterprises seem to regard the serial exploitation of "workies" as a business model, while outlets that used to pay now seem to work on the basis that online means unpaid.
Meanwhile, it's a little-known fact that wage-free labour is in most cases illegal under the Minimum Wage Act.
The NUJ has already helped one former "workie" to victory - and a pay-out of the minimum wage due to her - at an Industrial Tribunal, and sister union BECTU has had similar victories.
Following a motion passed at its April meeting, NUJ London Freelance Branch will be distributing flyers with information on the Cashback for Interns campaign during the May Day march, and possibly around Central London after that if there are enough of us up for it. We are appealing for volunteers to turn up on the day to help with this.
Look out for the NUJ London Freelance Branch banner outside The Crown pub, 43 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU, (Tube: Farringdon) at 12 noon on Tuesday 1 May.