Archive for May, 2013
Tags: austerity, museums, UK
free archaeology: austerity Britain – museum workers and entire workforces are replaced with volunteersPosted: 27/05/2013 in free archaeology, Research
Tags: austerity, internship, museums, UK, volunteering
The reduction of the City of York Council’s archaeology officer to a part-time worker and the threat of redundancies for its conservation officers prompted shovel-bum to (rightly) complain that ‘members of the field are pointlessly arguing about where Richard 3 should be buried, far more important archaeological concerns are being overshadowed.’
They may not be overshadowed much longer. The Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Harriet Harman, has highlighted taxpayers’ essential yet ‘invisible’ support for production of and access to culture; and it is becomingly increasingly visible increasingly quickly, as austerity drives professionals and entire institutions to the wall.
Tags: crisis, graduate with no future, Turkey, unemployment
Freakishly coincidentally, the day after Emily Johnson (@ejarchaeology) began the discussion on free archaeology (unpaid labour in cultural heritage management) in Britain, Radikal‘s Ömer Erbil (@omererbil) published an article on free archaeology in Turkey, and his commenters highlighted the persistent precarity of the (least un)lucky few employed cultural heritage workers. Young archaeologists have rebelled [genç arkeologlar ayaklandı] or, at least, protested against their exploitation…
I’ve translated and paraphrased Erbil’s excellent article and his readers’ enlightening comments; all depressing statistics are theirs, any embarrassing errors are mine. The article shows that the crisis in archaeological labour is international, but it also reveals coordinated professional resistance, which should be a lesson to archaeologists elsewhere.
Have you done free archaeology (or irrelevant labour) on workfare? Do you know someone who has? Out the ’employers’!Posted: 21/05/2013 in free archaeology, News & Analysis
Tags: austerity, museums, UK, workfare
As I explained before, there is a long-running, cross-party effort to consolidate and normalise unpaid labour, in which the cultural heritage sector is both victimised and (more or less naively or cynically) complicit. The coincidences of and clashes between “unpaid voluntary work” and “workfare” (work-for-welfare) highlight the realities of both cultural heritage work and workfare.
Tags: austerity, internship, museums, UK
Following on from my post on the precarisation of cultural heritage work, I want to look in detail at what seems like institutionalised exploitation of unpaid interns at the Victoria and Albert Museum (and another unnamed museum); and to highlight resources, movements and opportunities for positive social change.
Tags: austerity, Big Society, internship, precarity, UK, voluntarisation, volunteering, workfare
Thought and practice regarding the voluntary worker wage exemption appear to be closely connected with much larger efforts at privatisation, workfare and the breaking of the British social contract. Much like its subject, this has been cut in half; but it’s still tldr.
free archaeology: drawing the line between work experience and work; identifying structural disadvantage and exclusionPosted: 15/05/2013 in free archaeology, Research
Tags: internship, UK, work experience
Before I begin, I want to make clear that I am not using these case studies as examples of worst practice (though they are not all examples of best practice), or even as examples of consciously exploitative practice. I know people who have worked at all three of these museums (and indeed at the cultural heritage organisations that will appear in a far less flattering light tomorrow), so this is not an attempt to condemn these institutions’ staff.
This is an attempt to draw out the differences between volunteering, voluntary work, work experience and internship in practice; and to highlight the ways that museums’ policies on and programmes of volunteering and voluntary work can reinforce or create disadvantage and exclusion. Hopefully, then, it will be easier to identify widespread and/or persistent exploitation, and structural threats to the cultural heritage profession and its work.
free archaeology: ensuring that your workers don’t get minimum wage – not-necessarily-illegal unpaid voluntary workPosted: 14/05/2013 in free archaeology, Research
Tags: internship, minimum wage, volunteering
Intern Aware judge that ‘many internships in the charity sector do not abide by the specifications that state volunteers should be free to choose their working hours and tasks and [should] not report to a boss and receive training like workers’ (and No Pay? No Way! agree). No Pay? No Way! believe that ‘charities use a loophole in the law that enables them to avoid paying interns through calling them “voluntary workers”‘; but I’m not even sure that the loophole exists.
Tags: internship, minimum wage, UK
When I raised the issue of unpaid internships, an employee of the Department for Work and Pensions observed, ‘it’s almost a two-tier system now.’ (I did raise my eyebrows at almost.) ‘If you can afford to work for free, you can get lots of experience and you can get a great position; if you can’t, you have to swim with the rest of us.’ (I forgot to ask whether they meant swim up rapids, swim in the same foetid pool, or sink.)