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August 11, 2008 9:23 PM

North East Liberal Democrats have accused their Labour opponents of "rank hypocrisy" after the Government announced plans to introduce a hotline to "crack down on rogue employers who abuse vulnerable workers and undercut competition".

Labour Minister Pat McFadden has announced the establishment of a "Fair Employment Enforcement Board".

The Minister said: "We want to prevent unscrupulous employers who undercut honest competition and prey on people who are fearful or so desperate to earn a living that they are open to exploitation.

"It is vital we boost awareness of employment rights and ensure those rights are properly enforced.

"There should be no hiding place for employers who exploit vulnerable workers and who are not prepared to obey the law."

However, Newcastle Liberal Democrat campaigner Greg Stone has drawn attention to the Labour Party's own record at its regional headquarters at Gosforth, which is currently advertising for unpaid volunteers and campaign interns in "modern campaigning, organisation, and communications".

An advert on a political recruitment site www.w4mp.org states that the posts are unpaid and voluntary.

The news comes at a time when the Labour Party is in serious danger of bankruptcy, and has made many of its paid staff redundant at its London and Newcastle offices.

Greg Stone said: "This announcement from Labour is rank hypocrisy. I agree that it is important to tackle unscrupulous bosses who take advantage of young people desperate to gain experience in their chosen career field.

"But it is utterly nauseating for Labour to pose as championing workers' rights when they themselves are blatantly trying to exploit unpaid slave labour in their campaign centre, particularly at a time when they are laying off permanent staff.

"I am willing to accept that it may be legitimate for young people to take on a short term internship or work placement for an MP or a political party to gain experience or as a vacation job.

"However, to cynically substitute unpaid volunteers to run Labour's campaign call centres at a time when they are dishing out P45s to paid employees is utterly outrageous.

"I am considering reporting Labour's regional secretary Fiona Stanton to the Government's new hotline, and I look forward to them throwing the book at themselves."