We argued that too many young and entry-level media workers are currently excluded from protections and rights in the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Both interns and freelancers have no access to basic provisions including hours of work, overtime pay, sick days and minimum wage.
We shared the experiences of our members that we gathered over the past few months, including this story from a former unpaid intern:
“As an intern at [a daily newspaper], I participated in a 6 week internship in which I did not have a mentor or a contract, did not receive compensation, an honorarium, or school credit, and was treated as a full-time employee, in the place of other regular, paid employees of the paper who had gone on summer vacation. I was treated as the full-time employees were—held to the same standards, given the same responsibilities, etc.—but was unpaid."
We urged the government to create more protections and standards for interns in the media. CWA Canada Associate Members are recommending that all interns be given a contract and be covered by non-monetary protections and standards in the ESA, including hours of work, eating periods, and holidays. We believe that interns deserve the same protections and standards as all other workers.
CWA Canada Associate Members are also recommending for increased use of proactive enforcement and inspection blitzes. Currently, it is up to workers to assess if their rights are being violated and to file a complaint against their employer. Since it is not easy for workers at the start of their career to enforce their rights, many employer violations of the ESA go unchallenged.
In addition, the union is recommending expanding the Labour Relations Act to allow for non-unionized workers to collectively advocate for improved working conditions and for freelancers to unionize.
You can read our summarized oral submission here: CWA Canada Associate Members Oral Submssion - CWR, September 18 2015
And our full written submission here: CWA Canada Associate Members Written Submission - CWR, September 18 2015