FULL-TIME “CAMPAIGN ASSISTANT” TO BE PAID EXPENSES ONLY
*Graduate Fog exclusive*
Last week, London Mayor Boris Johnson attacked young jobseekers for lacking the “appetite” to find work – and blasted Cait Reilly, the graduate who is suing the government for ordering her to do an unpaid two-week internship at Poundland or face losing her benefits.
Yet Graduate Fog can exclusively reveal that the Johnson is busy recruiting for his own unpaid intern to help with his Back Boris 2012 campaign for re-election in May. His full-time “campaign assistant” will receive travel and lunch expenses only.
Like many of his colleagues in Parliament, Johnson seems shockingly unable to see the link between rocketing youth unemployment and the large number of young people around who are working for nothing for months on end.
In a spectacular failure to connect the dots, the capital’s Fraggle-haired Mayor started by accusing young jobseekers of being workshy, telling the Sun:
“There are large numbers of job vacancies. Why are young people not taking up those jobs? How can we help them? That is the key problem for our economy.
“Let’s talk about the work ethic. I don’t want to stigmatise young people because many of them do have the aptitude. But we need to face up to these issues. In some cases it can come down to the fact that the jobs are there and people need to have the energy to go out and get them.”
He also launched an astonishing attack on intern hero Cait Reilly, the Birmingham University graduate who has dared to challenge the government over being forced to work unpaid in Poundland for two weeks by her local job centre. Johnson said:
“I think things are badly wrong there. There’s no reason to sneer at a job of the kind that many people do in this country. She should not turn down the opportunity to do work of a kind that many, many people do and value. It’s just amazing. She shouldn’t feel above it.”
If Cait had been paid by Poundland, he might have had a point – but she wasn’t. Then, recalling his first job as a trainee reporter on The Times – which we presume he was paid for – Johnson added:
“I remember when I first got a job I could not believe how hard everybody had to work. I couldn’t believe having left university that it really did mean getting up that early and working that long and working at weekends. It is not forced labour – she’ll learn from it.”
Labour candidate Ken Livingstone – Johnson’s rival in the Mayoral race, who ensured that his own advert for volunteers in December was approved by our friends at Intern Aware – hit back. Referring to Johnson’s column in the Telegraph which is reputed to earn him £250,000 a year, Livingstone said:
“Boris Johnson has two jobs, earning him £400,000 a year combined, so it is little wonder that he is so out of touch about how hard it is to find work.”
But things get worse. Graduate Fog has discovered that Johnson has been busy recruiting a “campaign assistant” to help with his re-election campaign. The advert – live on the notorious political jobs website w4mp now – reads:
Job Title: Campaign Assistant
Working For: Westminster North Conservatives
Salary: Travel Expenses and Lunch Paid
We are looking for an intern to take a role with a busy year of campaigning for the Back Boris campaign and combining this with administration, data entry, analysis and day to day running of a busy office.
The successful applicant with have strong written, numeracy, IT and organisational skills and be sympathetic to the Conservative Party’s aims and beliefs. Both full time and part time applications will be considered. This position will provide an excellent opportunity for candidates to further enhance their CVs and gain valuable political and office-based experience. The opportunity would suit a student, recent graduate or an individual who is looking to learn more about how Political campaigning works.
It is unclear whether this campaign assistant job involves set hours – but it does seem clear that it involves real work, and that it is aimed squarely at young people seeking experience. Further research reveals adverts for further unpaid internships posted by Johnson’s office – one for multiple “campaign interns,” which appeared on the website in October.
If these interns are found to fit the criteria that make them a ‘worker’ as defined by the national minimum wage law, it is unclear whether Johnson feels he would be protected by the IPSA ruling which attempts to create a loophole allowing MPs to have unpaid interns.
If he is hoping for protection under this rule, it should be noted that as Mayor of London Johnson is not an MP. Nor is Back Boris 2012 a registered charity, so it seems unlikely he could claim that he is exempt from having to pay this campaign assistant for that reason either. We approached Johnson’s office for a comment but have had no response.
When Boris Johnson is forever telling us how concerned he is about the nation’s youth unemployment problem, we would expect him to take greater care over how he treats his own young staff. Referring to the high number of young people struggling to find work, Johnson asks “How can we help them?” Hey, here’s an idea, Boris. You could open your eyes and realise that unpaid work is not the solution to youth unemployment – it is already a big part of the problem. And you can start paying your interns a fair wage for their labour. It is a disgrace that a man in your position is so ready to take advantage of young people’s desperation in order to further his own career.
*SHOULD BORIS JOHNSON BE USING UNPAID INTERNS?
Are you shocked by the Mayor’s comments about young people – and his attack on Cait Reilly? Will you be voting for him at the election in May?