26 January 2013

To The British Film Institute (BFI): Stop Using Unpaid Interns!

Apparently, it's not just the private companies out there who try to make profits by exploiting youngsters who want to work... 

Read the following email sent to us today by our friends at Change.org and sign the petition asking the BFI to stop excluding talented young people who cannot afford to work for free and exploiting those who do undertake the internships by providing it as "the only option"

Thanks in advance

Loup Dargent

The Email:

Loup -

It's the countdown to the biggest celebration of the British film industry -- the BAFTAs in less than three weeks time. But the glamour of "award season" hides a reality of exploitation and exclusion that confronts many young film fans with dreams of working in the industry.

The British Film Institute (BFI) is a publicly funded organisation that was set up to support the industry and nurture new talent -- but when Neil* applied to work for the BFI he was told the only option was an internship that required him to work for three months with no pay. Neil believes that by refusing to pay interns the BFI is excluding talented young people who cannot afford to work for free and exploiting those who do undertake the internships by providing it as "the only option"

That's why he started a petition on Change.org asking the British Film Institute to stop using unpaid interns. Click here to join him. 

The BFI receives funding from the government for its work to support the UK film industry -- but its refusal to pay interns is contrary to government instructions on fair payment and is out of step with similar institutions like BAFTA that pay interns for their work. Intern Aware, the campaign for fair paid internships, has already used public pressure to convince companies like Harrods to revise their internship programmes. 

Neil believes that if enough people sign his petition it will send a strong message to the BFI that it must follow suit and change its internship policy. 

Sign Neil's petition to tell the BFI to treat interns fairly. 

Thanks for being part of this,

Katherine and the Change.org team

*Neil has used a pseudonym to protect his identity

Neil's own words on why he is petitioning the BFI:

The BFI is a public body which is exploiting young people and excluding those who cannot afford to work for free.

I am looking for a job in film and media and like so many others I am simply not in a position to afford to work for 3 months without pay, particularly so in London and its cost of living. I am hard working and good at what I do. I could help be an asset to the BFI, but they refuse to pay people like me for our contribution.

As a taxpayer funded body, the BFI has a moral and legal responsibility to conduct its affairs within the law and not to discriminate against people from low income backgrounds.

Their decision to use unpaid interns runs directly contrary to government instructions on fair payment. http://www.ion.icaew.com/ClientFiles/a42b9c80-6acd-4dca-980a-bac45d9a324d/Interns%20booklet%206.pdf 
Furthermore, what is particularly galling is their poor reaction to numerous complaints via social media and email. The BFI's regurgitated answer on twitter was insulting. I am yet to receive a response to my email.

The BFI works closely with Creative Skillset implementing policies particularly to do with training and employment. The Creative Skillset Guidelines clearly state that interns should be paid NMW wage if the placement is over 4 weeks in duration. http://www.creativeskillset.org/companies/your_staff/placements/article_7670_1.asp 
This is clear hypocrisy What is the point of such guidelines if one of the most important organisations within the industry ignores them?

The BFI receives millions of pounds of taxpayer money each year. So please join me in expressing your disappointment in their refusal to treat interns fairly.

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