Barwell backs down over interns: now he wants ‘volunteers’

Gaffe-prone Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP for Croydon Central, has as good as admitted he may have been breaking the law by recruiting interns to work on his re-election campaign unpaid for up to six months.

MP Gavin Barwell: won't pay the going-rate for someone to work for him

MP Gavin Barwell: won’t pay the going-rate for someone to work for him

Not for the first-time, “Gaffe-prone Gav” has been forced into a U-turn after his conduct was highlighted by Inside Croydon.

Barwell has changed his recruitment ad, following Inside Croydon’s report which exposed how he wanted to get people to work in the local Tories’ Purley head office through the winter for no pay and only with election agent Ian Parker for company, thus breaking the National Minimum Wage legislation and recent Conservative policy which limits the term of traineeships, or “internships”, to less than four weeks.

But to all intents and purposes, Barwell’s still looking to exploit someone whose parents have more money than sense.

The re-drafted recruitment ad on the W4MP website no longer mentions interns. Now Barwell is calling for “volunteers”, to work on his campaign for “a minimum of two weeks” – sufficiently open-ended that these office serfs could be hard at it all through from September until the General Election next May.

“The wording’s changed, but the intention remains the same: the MP appears to want someone to work for him for nothing,” said a spokesman from the Trades Union Congress after we showed them the advertisement.

They didn’t say it, but there was a sense that they felt here was a leading member of the Tory party being cheap as well as nasty… Any volunteers will likely be taken off the unemployment statistics, because they will not be available for work – and therefore they will lose entitlement for a range of benefits while working for Barwell.

W4MP, a website which carries hundreds of Westminster-related jobs each week, would appear to agree that the re-drafted ad is barely different from the original: Barwell’s ad still carries the same legal disclaimer warning applicants of the risks of being exploited in an unpaid position:

“The role being advertised is a voluntary one. As such, there are no set hours and responsibilities and you should be free to come and go as you wish. If the post demands set hours and/or has a specific job description you may be deemed to be a ‘worker’ and be covered by National Minimum Wage legislation.”

Times must be tough at Barwell’s office, despite three of his assistants – who all collect their wages paid for by the tax-payer – also trousering tens of thousands of pounds a year in allowances as Croydon councillors.

As Inside Croydon reported last week, Barwell has also been caught out not publishing his MP’s expenses claims – as he had promised before being elected. When he got his office minion to post the details of his latest expenses on his website, it showed the £66,000-per-year MP claiming four quid for someone to clean his constituency office windows (a job one of his state-funded lackies might easily do).

Barwell has even claimed reimbursement for the television licence for his constituency office. “I don’t pay my taxes so that the likes of Mario Creatura can sit in the office watching the telly all day,” Inside Croydon’s loyal reader said.

Oh, but you do, dear reader, you do…



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Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, Ian Parker, Mario Creatura and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Barwell backs down over interns: now he wants ‘volunteers’

  1. mraemiller says:

    The thing is, the National Minimum Wwage is peanuts: £6.19 an hour, £5.03 for the under 20s, £3.72 for the under-18s, though why the under-18s deserve to earn less for manual labour than the over-21s has always been beyond me.

    Perhaps he could try for an apprentice £2.68 an hour.

    There’s no one politicians seem to hate more than the young. It really is peanuts but it never ceases to amaze me how many employers have to have those peanuts prized from their clasped fists as though they were the Kohinoor

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