Bonus TGIF: Applied Language Solutions/Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement March 2, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Fun stuff, TGIF.
Court interpreters in the UK are protesting the signing of a private contract between Applied Language Solutions and the Ministry of Justice, which has seen their rates almost halved. According to an article in the Guardian, “As many as 1,000 interpreters are boycotting a privatised contract to supply linguistic services to all English and Welsh courts, resulting in postponed hearings, suspects being released and compensation claims.” According to Syed Amjad Ali, who organized the Manchester demonstration, “Interpreters were getting £30 an hour before, for a minimum of three hours, now they offering them £16-£22, no travel for the first hour and petrol of 20p per mile.” Apparently about 60% of the 2,300 people on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters are refusing to work for ALS under the conditions in the contract, and the court is starting to panic because cases are being postponed and even dismissed because they can’t find an interpreter. One of the biggest complaints is that qualified interpreters aren’t willing to work for those rates, so the quality of the interpreters who are being sent to jobs has understandably dropped.
The rates for interpreting in court in Germany (and government contracts here in the States) have always been lower than the standard market rate, so I can’t imagine what the UK interpreters are dealing with. Based on the chatter on my listservs and online, Applied Language Solutions signed an agreement to provide translation services to the court and for the 2012 Olympics. I imagine that will be hard to do if they can’t find anyone to provide those services for them. In the past the Olympics has relied on volunteer interpreters with no training. I happen to know someone who worked in Atlanta back in 1996. She did it as a lark because she knew a little Spanish. I knew her from back in high school. She has never worked in the T&I industry and is a Tastefully Simple salesperson. Anyway, I’m digressing…
Back to the matter at hand. As Chris Durban so aptly explained, “very worrying logistics & quality issues now have led the MoJ to authorize courts to look for alternate solutions — an indication that maybe, just maybe, some intermediaries’ race to the bottom rates-wise may have reached a limit.” It’s kind of hard for an agency that doesn’t actually do the work to provide bottom-rate translation services if the service providers choose not to work for them. Keep your chins up, fellow UK interpreters! We’re all behind you.