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Are Unpaid Internships Slave Labour?


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The NDP is initiating a bill which would regulate unpaid internships in federally regulated industries. The whole idea of unpaid internships has become more controversial as more and more companies take advantage of the glut of recent graduates trying to enter the market.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/ndp-hoping-to-end-wild-west-exploitation-of-unpaid-interns-with-new-bill-1.1871253

Opponents of unpaid internships claim that this is driving down starting wages, creating more unemployment and is basically slave labour.

Proponents of unpaid internships counter that this a great way for graduates to get “experience” in the field and that the market should dictate wages.

Is the idea of unpaid internships a good idea or a bad idea?

Should governments get involved to force regulations to these positions in the private sector?

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Slave labour is disgusting hyperbole because it indicated you can't leave.

If you're expected to work indefinitely, for free, in the hope that you "may" be offered a paid position, in the future, then of course it's taking advantage of young people.

But most of the "internship" I'm aware of are work placements that are part of their education. You're placed at a work place for a pre-determined amount of time to gain experience in the field. You may get offered a spot afterwards but that's not the implied intent of the program. But at least you get a set of experiences and skills you can put on a resume.

Edited by Boges
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Many of the modern "leftist" cries about this or that working condition being akin to "slave labor" are indeed ridiculous, and inappropriate, hyperbole. One of the key features of slavery is that one is compelled to continue to be a slave, that one is literally the property of another. That is not the case with internships, or minimum wage jobs for that matter, and the comparison is absurd. One has the free choice to accept or decline an unpaid position, and one has the free choice to leave said position after starting in it.

Furthermore, unpaid or low paid internship positions are a key component of education in many fields, often done by university students throughout their summers as an integral part of their program/degree. The internships often provide more real learning that will translate to marketable skills than anything else the students do as part of their degrees. Banning such internships, or regulating them to the point that red tape deters many companies from offering them, will only detract from the learning experience of university students and reduce the quality and skills of people entering the workforce.

Additionally, for internships in fields that have any real demand for labor, the positions are generally quite well paid. I made $15-20/hour at all the various internships that I did throughout my time as an undergrad in university, which isn't bad at all for a university student that is at the same time completing their course (work experience) requirements and gaining real experience in their chosen field.

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Slave labour is disgusting hyperbole because it indicated you can't leave.

If you're expected to work indefinitely, for free, in the hope that you "may" be offered a paid position, in the future, then of course it's taking advantage of young people.

But most of the "internship" I'm aware of are work placements that are part of their education. You're placed at a work place for a pre-determined amount of time to gain experience in the field. You may get offered a spot afterwards but that's not the implied intent of the program. But at least you get a set of experiences and skills you can put on a resume.

The bill is not talking about ALL interns. It is about targeting internships that are exploiting people. There will still be low/non paid interns. The unsavoury employers will no longer be able to exploit them.

If passed, the bill would cap the number of hours an intern can work for federally regulated employers and grant interns the right to refuse dangerous work. It would also set conditions for the use of interns and provide protection from sexual harassment.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/ndp-hoping-to-end-wild-west-exploitation-of-unpaid-interns-with-new-bill-1.1871253#ixzz34vDY6oeR

These are things that should already be regulated.

Are Unpaid Internships Slave Labour?

No.

Calling it slave labour is idiotic hyperbole. This type of rhetoric completely wrecks one's own argument.

It is exploitation and, at times, dangerous for the person being exploited. Just call it what it is. That's bad enough and needs to be changed.

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Slave labour is disgusting hyperbole because it indicated you can't leave.

If you're expected to work indefinitely, for free, in the hope that you "may" be offered a paid position, in the future, then of course it's taking advantage of young people.

But most of the "internship" I'm aware of are work placements that are part of their education. You're placed at a work place for a pre-determined amount of time to gain experience in the field. You may get offered a spot afterwards but that's not the implied intent of the program. But at least you get a set of experiences and skills you can put on a resume.

That is my understanding to of how the system used to work and how it should work and how it should be interpreted. You couldn

t have said it any clearer/

So..

Has there been an increase in abuse? That may be teh question.

Interns are complaining, some are using words that exagerrate the abuse. Slave Labour is a throwaway term and is not helpful to the argument.

THere has been a recent increase in "slave labour" found throughout Canada of recent, but it has not been Interns, its been, immigrant, migrant adn foreign temp, victimized by human traffickers.

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Interns are complaining, some are using words that exagerrate the abuse. Slave Labour is a throwaway term and is not helpful to the argument.

It's a throwaway term like 'terrorist' or 'fighting for freedom' are these days. As for internships, I think it's hard to argue the system isn't being abused. As the young graduates find it harder and harder to earn gainful employment, employers inevitably become aware of this and, knowing that these desperate young folk need the experience, hire them to do work for free that they'd otherwise be paying Canadians to do.

Regulation for this, in my opinion, is long overdue.

Edited by Moonbox
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The bill is not talking about ALL interns. It is about targeting internships that are exploiting people. There will still be low/non paid interns. The unsavoury employers will no longer be able to exploit them.

From the OP link:

If passed, the bill would cap the number of hours an intern can work for federally regulated employers and grant interns the right to refuse dangerous work. It would also set conditions for the use of interns and provide protection from sexual harassment.

...

"Our government is committed to keeping Canadian workplaces safe, fair and productive," Leitch's press secretary Andrew McGrath said in an email.

Matt Ferguson, whose 22-year-old brother Andy died in a head-on collision in 2011 after working excessive hours as an unpaid intern at an Edmonton radio station, called the bill a move in the right direction.

Ferguson said his brother died not because he was unpaid, but because he was forced to work for too long -- a morning shift and then all night, with just five hours off over a 24-hour span.

The NDP bill is limited to federally regulated workplaces and would not affect interns working in businesses or government institutions regulated by the provinces.

But it's better than having no protections at all, which is what currently exists, said NDP MP Andrew Cash, who co-sponsored the bill with fellow MP Laurin Liu.

This is good, this exploitation needs to be addressed. There's internship positions in some fields/industries that are very difficult to secure for students who need them to finish their degrees, and employers exploit this by making these students work ridiculous hours because they know that if they quit then the student doesn't get their required experience so the student has little choice but to try and work through it i know this because I've seen it with my own eyes. All internships, paid or unpaid, should be regulated by law just like regular employment.

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From the OP link:

This is good, this exploitation needs to be addressed. There's internship positions in some fields/industries that are very difficult to secure for students who need them to finish their degrees, and employers exploit this by making these students work ridiculous hours because they know that if they quit then the student doesn't get their required experience so the student has little choice but to try and work through it i know this because I've seen it with my own eyes. All internships, paid or unpaid, should be regulated by law just like regular employment.

Internships ARE regulated by law. An employer most certainly cannot legally "force" an intern to work 19 hours out of a 24 hour span.

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The bill is not talking about ALL interns. It is about targeting internships that are exploiting people.

Utterly meaningless. Anybody can say they are exploited, it's completely subjective.

Internships are 100% voluntary, whether paid or not. If you don't want to be 'exploited' in an unpaid internship, then don't sign up for one.

I echo the previous poster that to say internships are like slavery, is a grotesque and offensive minimization of what actual slavery is.

Edited by hitops
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Some posters here would move the age to vote to 16.

Other posters argue that women, at any age, don't know what they're doing (and so prostitution is exploitation).

At what age do you really know what you're doing?

====

I'm inclined to pick 30 as a number. Before I was 30, I didn't really know what I was doing.

(I also like the idea of owning property and paying taxes as a voting criteria. Maybe having children... If you have children, you get the right to vote. As a conservative, I may favour such a voting system.)

Edited by August1991
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Some posters here would move the age to vote to 16.

Other posters argue that women, at any age, don't know what they're doing (and so prostitution is exploitation).

At what age do you really know what you're doing?

====

I'm inclined to pick 30 as a number. Before I was 30, I didn't really know what I was doing.

(I also like the idea of owning property and paying taxes as a voting criteria. Maybe having children... If you have children, you get the right to vote. As a conservative, I may favour such a voting system.)

Wrong thread?

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Looks like our government is also concerned about the misuse of the intern program;

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/federal-government-should-track-unpaid-internships-commons-report-says-1.1880210

Good thing some leaders are concerned about it. After all, since we are not independent free-minded humans but merely automatons, none of us has any choice here. When an unpaid internship shows up, our programming compels us to apply for it and perform it's duties. It's exploitation! Given our absence of authority over our own person, government should step in and fix it for us.

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Good thing some leaders are concerned about it. After all, since we are not independent free-minded humans but merely automatons, none of us has any choice here. When an unpaid internship shows up, our programming compels us to apply for it and perform it's duties. It's exploitation! Given our absence of authority over our own person, government should step in and fix it for us.

I believe that there is an obligation for our government to get involved when the business sector begins questionable practices which effect our work force. No one seems to ague that there is a need for a foreign workers program to satisfy the needs of business - but - it also knows that there is a need for a third party to regulate the process so that it does not cost Canadian jobs.

Qualified individuals just out of University are a target ripe for exploitation. Getting an intership in a company and working for free only to have that internship renewed and renewed is not fair.

Many companies do use the process to legitimately interview the potential candidate and review their work as interns. Unfortunately, there are businesses where the bottom line supersedes the hiring process with a number of interns "hired" only to have them all let go and replaces with another crew once the first groups time is up.

I do understand the market forces when there is a glut of candidates in a particular field but I feel that we are doing something wrong when University graduates get waitressing and cab driving jobs because they have student loans to pay off and cannot afford to work for free in their specialties.

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I believe that there is an obligation for our government to get involved when the business sector begins questionable practices which effect our work force. No one seems to ague that there is a need for a foreign workers program to satisfy the needs of business - but - it also knows that there is a need for a third party to regulate the process so that it does not cost Canadian jobs.

Qualified individuals just out of University are a target ripe for exploitation. Getting an intership in a company and working for free only to have that internship renewed and renewed is not fair.

Internships are for people still in university, usually completed during summers, a year break, or part time concurrently with their studies, and are often an integral part of their study program. Internships are not for people that have already completed their degrees. People that have completed their degrees should be applying to entry level positions in their fields, not to internships. In fact, most internship positions at most companies are (by law) restricted only to individuals who are still enrolled in a study program at a post-secondary institution.

Many companies do use the process to legitimately interview the potential candidate and review their work as interns. Unfortunately, there are businesses where the bottom line supersedes the hiring process with a number of interns "hired" only to have them all let go and replaces with another crew once the first groups time is up.

As explained above, interns work for a specific duration as part of their education and then go back to school. If the company has a continuously running internship program, it will have new interns cycling in and out on a 4-12 month interval, by design, to match with their educational schedules.

I do understand the market forces when there is a glut of candidates in a particular field but I feel that we are doing something wrong when University graduates get waitressing and cab driving jobs because they have student loans to pay off and cannot afford to work for free in their specialties.

If there are more people trained in a certain field than there are jobs available in that field, then what else could one possibly expect to happen? Jobs don't just magically appear in sufficient quantities to employ everyone in their preferred occupation. Individuals should do some research to try to ensure that what they study is not only interesting to them and well-suited to their talents, but also has some reasonable employment prospects.

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My present employer (large multinational based in the U.K.) has a very large and successful intern program that dispells some myths:

1) Internships are not just for undergraduates attending university or other education programs

2) Undergrad interns often are expected to do work in areas that are not directly related to their fields

3) Graduate students can also be interns

4) Many people do not ultimately work in fields related to their undergraduate or graduate degrees

Each company or corporation has their own objectives for intern programs. Ours is a direct HR recruiting tool with about a 75% success rate for permanent employment.

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My present employer (large multinational based in the U.K.) has a very large and successful intern program that dispells some myths:

1) Internships are not just for undergraduates attending university or other education programs

2) Undergrad interns often are expected to do work in areas that are not directly related to their fields

3) Graduate students can also be interns

4) Many people do not ultimately work in fields related to their undergraduate or graduate degrees

Each company or corporation has their own objectives for intern programs. Ours is a direct HR recruiting tool with about a 75% success rate for permanent employment.

I find your post interesting but confusing. Are you stating that your points 1 to 4 are the myths or the facts. I respectfully ask for clarification.

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I find your post interesting but confusing. Are you stating that your points 1 to 4 are the myths or the facts. I respectfully ask for clarification.

They are facts for mine and other firms with internship programs, paid and unpaid. Mileage may vary.....

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Internships are for people still in university, usually completed during summers, a year break, or part time concurrently with their studies, and are often an integral part of their study program. Internships are not for people that have already completed their degrees.

What you are refering to is an educational institution's co-op program. Any company can offer an "internship" for whatever duties/duration they would like. If you want in that field (whether flooded or scarce) you play by their rules or you don't play. If field is flooded more applicants for internor (ie. More power), scarce more opportunities for internee.

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I believe that there is an obligation for our government to get involved when the business sector begins questionable practices which effect our work force. No one seems to ague that there is a need for a foreign workers program to satisfy the needs of business - but - it also knows that there is a need for a third party to regulate the process so that it does not cost Canadian jobs.

Not really, nobody is under any compulsion to do unpaid work unless they choose to.

Qualified individuals just out of University are a target ripe for exploitation. Getting an intership in a company and working for free only to have that internship renewed and renewed is not fair.

Then quit.

Are we actually at the point in society where we enter agreements of our own free will, then demand government fix the situation for us? For crying out loud, this isn't the cultural revolution where somebody forces you at gunpoint to a certain field and uses you for slave labour. Nobody enters an unpaid internship but by their own choice.

Edited by hitops
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Each company or corporation has their own objectives for intern programs. Ours is a direct HR recruiting tool with about a 75% success rate for permanent employment.

BC, you miss the point.

The Leftist opposition to Internship Programmes is based on the Leftist perception of "victimhood".

Presumably, rich/powerful/white guys/corporations are taking advantage of innocent/naive/well-meaning/poor graduate students.

IOW, it's a champagne problem/issue.

========

To take the Leftist view personally: When did I know what I was doing and I was not ignorant? I'd say when I was 30. I was potentially a "victim" before 30 but after that, I knew what I was doing.

My call.

Edited by August1991
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