Internship, Slave-Labour revisited

‘News’ sites, such as the BBC's 'The unstoppable rise of work experience', who, for the sake of their brand of ‘objectivity’, state that ‘to critics, interns are nothing more than a vast army of unpaid labour’, are basically implying that this is a matter of opinion and not fact.

Fact: They are working for free

Fact: They are not being paid whilst working

Fact: The company profits from not having to pay interns who take on entry level jobs and perhaps, only do so, when they are officially employed in entry level positions some months later, or qualify for higher level positions due to their unpaid experience in entry level positions as ‘interns’.

When people are willing to sell themselves at the price of hope for employment in the future, it indicates the degree to which the idea of exploitation is fast becoming just a matter of opinion as opposed to a matter of fact.That is exploitation and not a viewpoint of ‘critics’. I suppose the critics of 'critics' would say that this isn't a modern form of slave-labour as the enslaved in the past were not given the guarantee of hope that they would be employed in the future whereas the 'interns' of the present are given such a guarantee, just that they are not told when. And what about those whom do not come from relatively rich families? Are they supposed to take out loans so that they may afford to provide free labour via 'internship'?

This is a British instance of slave-labour. I’ve also spoken to quite a few Filipinos in Singapore who were engaged in stacking shelves and providing basic customer service - “What’s your shoe size sir” - and they too were interns in ‘OJT’, or ‘On Job Training’ in Singapore, or more accurately, pre-graduate interns.

ed: Are you employed here or something?
Filipino: We are here on OJT, it’s part of our course in the Philippines.
ed: What course is that?
Filipino: A business degree.
ed: So you got no shoes in the Philippines or what? You can stack shelves there right? How come you are here doing that as OJT for a business degree? Not relevant right?
Filipino: (smiles) yah, but its part of our course and we need to do it to graduate.
ed: so stackings shelves is part of a business degree? You are being screwed man, you know that right? Your university is probably being paid a small sum by these companies here to ship you over to work for free.
Filipino: yah maybe. But after this, we can use our degrees and get jobs in other countries.

But the BBC brushes this aside with,

“Whatever your take, there is little doubt that work experience has an increasingly large impact on what will be the job prospects for many young people.”
In other words, what’s right and wrong doesn’t matter so long as internship translates to jobs after said period of free labour. A highly Confucian take on things as will be appreciated by those whom are well-versed in this ancient art of exploitation and mass-management.


But we cannot take this gradual and graduated turn of events lightly


When people are willing to sell themselves at the price of hope for employment in the future, it indicates the degree to which the idea of exploitation is fast becoming just a matter of opinion as opposed to a matter of fact. It indicates the degree to which the previous means utilised to get around or 'compensate' for an iniquitous state of affairs has become culture. It is only then that we can naturally take little issue with proffering free labour for hope.

To ‘compensate’ is to get less than we hoped for or which is our rightful due. This, oftentimes, leads to a reduction of one’s personality so that a goodness-of-fit is established between it and the ambitions, hopes and means of life one is left with.Compensation, many a time, is one of the greatest evils. To ‘compensate’ is to get less than we hoped for or which is our rightful due. This, oftentimes, leads to a reduction of one’s personality so that a goodness-of-fit is established between it and the ambitions, hopes and means of life one is left with. And this, in turn, lowers the perspectival bar for our progeny and they put up with less because we haven’t taught them to become more. Finally, that which we deem to alright when done to us becomes alright for us to do unto others. And then, society is prepared for the next phase of underdevelopment and go through the above cycle once again.

I suppose, if we accept the BBC’s take on things, than the slavery of the past and present can be perceived as nothing more than ‘internship’. After all, it did translate to a global socio-economic status quo that is deemed acceptable by most is it not? Just as “there is little doubt that work experience has an increasingly large impact on what will be the job prospects for many young people.”

It’s about time Marx is revisited.


ed



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