In collaboration with the Swiss union Unia, Switzerland’s Young Socialists have launched a protest against the exploitation of interns.
To get on the career ladder, many young people feel compelled to take internships offering little or no pay. The Young Socialists are demanding interns be better paid.
Recent data from the Federal Statistical Office shows that 23% of young workers (15-24) are on short-term contracts, 41% of them interns.
Unpaid internships are a race to the bottom in a highly competitive job market. If no-one accepted them they wouldn’t exist. However, because of the difficulty of finding work, some inevitably do and others are compelled to follow or remain sidelined.
In an interview with nau.ch, Tamara Funiciello, president of the Young Socialists in Bern, admits to taking an unpaid internship herself, which she combined with paid work. Furthermore, she told nau.ch that she thinks if you work full time you should be able to live off your pay.
At the same time, the newspaper 20 Minutes reported that the Young Socialists advertised a poorly paid intern position themselves, offering CHF 1,000 a month for 60%. This comes out at a full time rate of CHF 1,667 a month, which is not considered a living wage in Switzerland.
When questioned, a party representative agreed that someone couldn’t live on CHF 1,000 a month, but added that they only employ very young people still living at home. In addition, their interns receive training, seven weeks of holidays and work no overtime.
In George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm, his characters come up with the commandment: All animals are equal. Later in the story it gets extended to: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.