Too many employers have convinced themselves that experience, plus a few quid for a sandwich and the bus fare, is an acceptable form of payment – we just never expected one of those employers to be the man who introduced the minimum wage law.
So says Tanya de Grunwald, founder of Graduate Fog, about recent revelations that Tony Blair has been staffing his offices with unpaid interns. According to the Guardian, one candidate for Blair's office had a 90-minute test before being told he was unsuitable because he was only able to commit to four days of unpaid work.
Verso author Ross Perlin was keen to draw attention to the fact that "experience" and "exploitation" seem to have the same meaning today with his book Intern Nation. In the wake of Perlin's book there has been a steady restructuring of internship rights and wages i.e. they appear to actually exist now. But the fact that former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is reported to make an annual income of £20m and who draws a public allowance and prime ministerial pension would not enforce his own wage legislation will probably not surprise everyone.
A spokesperson from HMRC has stated that they "always act on allegations of NMW abuse", while a statement from Tony Blair's office has said they value their interns "very highly".
I'm sure they do.
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