Monday 19 September 2011

Olympics Sponsor Coca Cola Recruits Distributors - But Isn't Paying Them

Many thanks to Pete from local community radio station NuSound for letting me know that for next year's London Olympics, official sponsor Coca-Cola is recruiting people "to help distribute drinks to athletes, visitors, staff and volunteers within the Olympic Park and other London 2012 venue" - but isn't paying them.

The posts of 'Venue Operator Interns' will involve, amongst other tasks, the distribution and arrangement of "up to an average of 80 cases of product per day", as well as ensuring "the correct amounts of stock are maintained and recorded". Internships are full time for a period of 4 to 8 weeks between 18 July and 12 September next year and their hours may include late night shifts. The work is evidently demanding: applicants are expected to be "physically fit with a high level of energy".

So much of been made about the employment opportunities that the Games will bring to local people, although there are only 11 jobs in east London listed (as of today) on the official Jobs for the Games website. But it's still a shock to discover that a 'Worldwide Olympic Partner' like Coca Cola has found a way around minimum wage legislation by not paying interns a wage at all - especially when even the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced guidance advising that intern positions should be paid the National Minimum Wage.

Unsurprisingly, the offer of sharing a twin room in a hotel, a "healthy breakfast and working lunch" and expenses didn't feature in this guidance as an adequate alternative to proper pay of at least £8.30 an hour.

During the Labour leadership campaign Ed Miliband signed a pledge organised by the campaign Intern Aware promising that, if elected, he would "campaign for Labour’s Minimum Wage Act to be fully enforced so that employers must pay their interns what they are due". Somehow, I imagine the chances are slim at best that he'll speak up and demand that this includes the Olympics in 2012.

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