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Published on February 13th, 2013 | by Vanessa Smart

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UAL Students’ Union to protest at Fashion Week

SUArts will team up with Intern Aware to protest against unpaid internships in the fashion industry. [image: Intern Aware]

UAL’s Students’ Union (SUArts) will be taking part in a protest against unpaid internships during London Fashion Week.

SUArts campaign, The Devil Pays Nada, is joining the national campaign group Intern Aware to protest outside Somerset House throughout the five-day event.

Fairooz Aniqa, culture and diversity officer at SUArts said: “We will be going down to London Fashion Week and handing out bags with information for interns on their rights and the national minimum wage laws, as well as talking to key people and asking whether they pay their interns.”

The bags will contain advice on how interns can take part in Intern Aware’s Claim Back Your Pay scheme and a letter written by Libby Page, a BA Fashion Journalism student at the London College of Fashion.

Page works with the Devil Pays Nada campaign and Intern Aware to educate interns on their rights.

Fear

“I may be speaking loudly about unpaid internships,” Page writes in her letter,”but there are thousands of young people who are still silenced by fear.

“So on behalf of them I say to you: unpaid internships are unfair. They exclude talented young people and define them by wealth, not talent. The industry should value its interns for what they are: potential new talent to drive the industry forward, not disposable tea-makers to be exploited or overlooked.”

Page has been on seven unpaid internships – mainly in the fashion industry – and, like many students and graduates, cannot afford to continue working for free.

“There are thousands of young people who are still silenced by fear.” BA Fashion Journalism student, Libby Page

“I have been fairly lucky, having never worked for more than a month at a time for free. But as I am coming up to my graduation I realise that it isn’t just that I am expected to intern for free whilst I am studying.

“There is also the expectation to intern after you graduate often from up to six months to a year for free. Who can afford to do that?”

Fashionable loan

Page explained that one of the reasons she chose to study was so she could get a student loan to support herself whilst living in London.

“I have been able to do internships with my student loan but I know it’s not an option for many people. It would have been completely impossible for me to live in London without that loan.

“It is in everyone’s interest that the broader industry is still able to create jobs.” British Fashion Council spokesperson

“I’m aware it’s a backwards system. I essentially paid to work for free,” she explained.

A British Fashion Council spokesperson said to The Guardian“It is in everyone’s interest that the broader industry is still able to create jobs, giving experience and opportunity to future employees, training them and encouraging young people to join the sector.

“We are confident that there is now much greater awareness about this issue across the industry.”

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