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Friday 4 January 2013

Paying Interns – Take 2

After observing the less than totally civil discussions between the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and bloggers who do not share his political stance yesterday, one might have been left – as InternAware were – with the impression that the Guido Fawkes blog pays its interns reasonably well, although, as Laurance Durnan at Political Scrapbook observed, this is not the full rate National Minimum Wage (NMW).

So what is The Great Guido paying his interns, and is this situation common to his pals at the group dishonesty and rant emporium known as The Commentator? Fortunately, once again the opposition comes riding to the rescue, this time in the singularly unappealing form of Staines’ odious tame gofer, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, who has told exactly what his boss is getting away with.

Master Cole took grave exception to one Tweeter who accused the Fawkes folks of exploitation: “bull shit [sic]”, he snapped. “I started on intern rate here and it enabled me to survive after university and firm up a real job”. Note the superb display of brass neck in being able to call bullshit and then talking, er, bullshit. “Firm up a real job”, indeed. Perhaps his degree contained a PowerPoint flannel module.

But what of this “intern rate”? There’s nothing about that in the gov.uk NMW information page. Well, Cole has once again brought the facts into the open, however inadvertently: “interns = apprentices. Paid at appropriate rate” he asserts. All is now clear: there has been an Apprentice NMW since 2010, and a pitiful sum of money it is too: a mere £2.65 an hour.

Moreover, the Apprenticeships website tells that those so categorised should expect to “receive training, gain qualifications [and] learn job-specific skills”, and while I have no doubt that Staines would argue vehemently that he satisfies the third of those criteria, there is stuff all chance that he covers the other two. And as to enabling those participating to “survive”, I’m not so sure.

An “Apprentice” doing 40 hours a week will earn a mere £106, while a graduate (Cole and his colleague Alex Wickham are both university graduates) on NMW would earn £247.60. And those in London should ideally be paid the Living Wage of £8.30 an hour (as endorsed by Barclays, Westfield, the LSE and TfL), giving £332 a week. The Apprentice rate doesn’t cover the most basic living costs.

A seven day Zone 1+2 Travelcard is now over £30. Food and drink (not including the alcoholic variety) will absorb much of the rest. Any remainder will be more than eaten up by other essential costs – and that’s before you even consider rent (oh, and lighting and heating, too). The Great Guido is getting away with stumping up between £141.60 and £226 a week, depending on minimum wage definition.

On those numbers, calling “exploitation” is not “bullshit” at all. It’s plain fact.

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