BAN UNPAID INTERNSHIPS!
The global pandemic has put our lives on hold for the last two years. While our classes were moved online, not only we missed key events that were to shape our lives, we suffered social and economic instability. We were no longer able to rely on libraries for our books and materials. We had to buy additional technology to follow online classes. We were forced to pay fees for the dormitories we were not staying in. Our part-time jobs disappeared. Some of us had to rely on food aid and some of us had to drop out of education.
The challenges brought by the pandemic combine with the long existing struggle of making ends meet; finding affordable housing, gaining experience and finding meaningful work that strengthens our skill set while making it easier for us to navigate the labour market.
Internships have become a common way to gain work experience and set a foot in the door of the labour market. Yet, the ever-increasing reliance of employers on unpaid internships is rendering the transition from education to work particularly perilous for today’s youth.
2022 was announced as the European Year of Youth by the European Commission. This year has to be the year that we once and for all end unpaid internships and traineeships in Europe.
- Unpaid internships are exploitative: Young people are exploited by working for free under the pretense of gaining experience. Experience does not pay the bills. Work is work, and it should be paid. Moreover, unpaid interns or other interns who are exploited are often unable to seek the support or advice of a union.
- Unpaid internships are unjust: In certain sectors of the labour market, entry-level positions have been fully replaced by unpaid internships. Not only do unpaid internships offer none of the security and value of a real, paid job, they also make certain sectors inaccessible for people who cannot afford to work for free. Those who come from wealth are given yet another advantage in life.
- Unpaid internships perpetuate inequality: Young people who do not have the privilege of financial security, parental support or cheap housing cannot take unpaid internships, making it even harder to begin their working life and benefit from social mobility.
Internships are work and work must be paid. Unpaid internships are a violation of young people’s right to fair remuneration. Beyond a ban on unpaid internships, we need fair wages for interns accompanied with a European status for interns and trainees, guaranteeing a minimum standard of rights concerning working conditions.
Providing fair wages for interns will benefit all of society. We will be justly rewarded for our hard work and we will have greater financial security to withstand any future crisis. Access to career opportunities will be opened up to all young people and not just those who can afford to work unpaid. Even businesses will be able to benefit through the potential to recruit young people from a more diverse range of backgrounds and uphold young people’s rights.
We are calling on the European Commission and the Member States to put forward a common binding legal framework for an effective and enforceable ban on unpaid internships, traineeships and apprenticeships and providing a minimum standard of rights concerning working conditions.
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The Young Democrats for Europe is the youth wing of the European Democratic Party and of Renew Europe, Parliamentary Group. The YDE has 13 members in 10 European countries and partners in a dozen of other European countries.
Young European Socialists (YES) – formerly ECOSY – is the biggest party political youth organization in Europe. YES unites the youth of socialist, social democratic and labour movements all over the continent to campaign and organise at the European level and to provide a forum for debate, advocacy, capacity-building and exchange for all European young socialist activists.
The Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000 members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights.
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