Backlash against unpaid internships growing in Canada called exploitation

Backlash against unpaid internships growing in Canada, called ‘exploitation’ OTTAWA – Nicholas Smith is a 22-year-old Torontonian, working on his second unpaid internship after graduating from the University of Toronto last year with an ethics degree.Working without pay for months — and sometimes years — after graduating triumphantly wasn’t exactly what Smith and his friends had in mind when they toiled away along the path to what they believed was a bright future.“I am working with people who’ve done their masters degrees, and definitely there’s an emotional toll in having to work for free,” said Smith, whose current unpaid internship is at a Toronto-based think-tank as a foreign policy analyst.“I used to do marketing and there are a couple of marketing companies that are absolutely notorious — they have marketing graduates working 50-hour weeks and overtime without pay, and if you refuse to work the OT you don’t get a reference,” he said.“And no one is picked up anyway at the end of the internships. It’s just exploitation.”Unpaid internships are on the rise in Canada, with some organizations estimating there’s as many as 300,000 people currently working for free at some of the country’s biggest, and wealthiest, corporations.The ranks of unpaid interns swelled in the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession, said Sean Geobey, a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the author of a recent report entitled The Young and the Jobless.Geobey says Canadians are starting to sit up and take notice.“This is not the sort of social contract that today’s kids saw their parents and grandparents grow up under,” he said.“We’re starting to see Canadians — young people and their parents in particular — seriously question what exactly is going on here, and why are we apparently returning to 19th-century labour practices.”Last fall, Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel sparked an uproar after it posted an ad seeking people to bus tables for free.“As a busperson you will take pride in the integral role you play in supporting your food and beverage colleagues and ‘setting the stage’ for a truly memorable meal.” The ad was quickly taken down amid a social-media furor.The United States is in the midst of a crackdown on unpaid internships by both state and federal authorities. In Canada, there’s a growing backlash, with a rally held last week in Toronto urging the Ontario government to do something about “unpaid internship scams.”Federally, the NDP’s Andrew Cash tabled a private member’s bill last fall aimed at cracking down on what he calls “the Wild West” of illegal unpaid internships. He says what used to be entry-level positions paying minimum wage are now routinely morphing into unpaid internships.“There’s a hodgepodge of laws across the country and in some provinces there’s simply no regulation at all,” Cash said in a recent interview.“And not only are we talking about young university graduates having to work for free, but also newcomers to the country who are desperate for Canadian work experience and are resorting to working without pay.”An official at the federal Labour Department says there are laws on the books to protect interns. Under the Canada Labour Code, a department inspector will investigate a federally regulated employer if a complaint is filed for unpaid wages, overtime and vacation pay.“If it’s determined an employer-employee relationship exists between interns and the employer, their rights will be protected as an employee,” the official said in a recent email.Nonetheless two academics working on a comprehensive study of unpaid internships in Canada scoff at those laws, pointing out that they require a young employee who’s trying desperately to establish a career to rat out a possibly powerful corporation — and potential employer.“There aren’t enough people coming forward, because there’s a huge disincentive to do that,” said Isabelle Couture, a graduate student who’s conducting a survey of unpaid interns with the Canadian Intern Association to determine the scope of the problem in Canada.“To go against your employer, you’re fearing being blacklisted. You want the experience and you want the reference and feel you have no other choice but to keep quiet.”Couture and her partner in the research, James Attfield, say that as they prepare to release their study next month, they’ve been stunned to learn that no federal or provincial agency is tracking unpaid internships.“When you ask a lot of these companies, like Bell — which has a massive internship program — they make it sound like they’re doing people a favour, that they’re generously providing work and experience,” says Attfield.“But it’s really nothing more than a way to save money; they’re obviously not doing it out of generosity.”A Bell spokeswoman says its internship program, which employs about 300 people a year, “offers learning opportunities in a real-world corporate setting. None of the participants’ activities replace work by Bell employees or support our business operations.”But Attfield and Couture, who are both working toward master’s degrees in public administration, point out that unpaid internships pose an array of social and economic problems.They give the children of well-heeled parents an advantage over those with no one to support them if they want to compete with their peers for valuable CV references by working for free, they say.They also contribute to youth unemployment rates, and prevent young Canadians from fully participating in Canada’s economy.“It’s so short-sighted, because these companies are withholding pay from people who might be able to pay for their goods and services and to contribute economically to society,” said Attfield.“There’s a cost to everyone as a result of these internships — to the employees who don’t get paid, to their parents, to the economy — at absolutely no cost to the companies.”Geobey says it all represents a startling throwback to another era.“This is what union organizers faced prior to the First World War. There’s the threat of blacklisting, the threat that their skills are not going to be used because the employer will call them troublemakers for wanting to be paid for their work.”Smith, the 22-year-old intern, isn’t quite as contemptuous, saying he’s grateful for the experience he’s currently getting from his unpaid internship.“I can’t say that I’ve got job prospects, but the networking opportunities have been really helpful.”Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter at @leeanne25 AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email University of Victoria graduate students Isabelle Couture and James Attfield are pictured in Ottawa on Friday, February 28, 2014. Couture and her partner in research Attfield did a survey of unpaid internships with the Canadian Intern Association. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick by Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press Posted Mar 2, 2014 10:00 am MDT read more

Teranga and Endeavour Mining on board with the World Gold Council

first_imgThe World Gold Council has welcomed Teranga Gold Corp and Endeavour Mining Corporation as its newest board members.David Harquail (pictured), Chair of the market development organisation for the gold industry, said: “Both companies play an important role in the production and exploration of gold across West Africa and bring with them a wealth of experience that will be of significant value.”Teranga is a Canada-based gold company focused on production and development as well as the exploration of approximately 6,000 km2 of land located on prospective gold belts across West Africa, according to the WGC.Since its initial public offering in 2010, Teranga has produced more than 1.6 Moz of gold at its flagship operation in Senegal. Focused on diversification and growth, the company is advancing construction of its second producing gold mine, located in Burkina Faso, as well as carrying out exploration programmes in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal.Endeavour is an intermediate gold producer with a track record of operational excellence, project development and exploration in the Birimian greenstone belt in West Africa, WGC said.Endeavour operates four mines across Côte d’Ivoire (Agbaou and Ity) and Burkina Faso (Houndé, Karma) which are expected to produce 615-695,000 oz in 2019 at an all-in sustaining cost of $760-810/oz.Sébastien De Montessus, CEO and President of Endeavour, said: “We are very pleased to be joining the World Gold Council. We share the organisation’s belief in the importance of setting global standards to reinforce trust and transparency in the sector and across the whole value chain. We look forward to working with the council and its members to improve understanding of the gold industry.”Richard Young, President and CEO, Teranga Gold, said: “For more than 30 years, the World Gold Council has supported greater understanding of gold’s enduring value and global influence. Today, at a time of both uncertainty and unprecedented opportunity, the work of organisations such as the World Gold Council is of paramount importance.”last_img read more