TIA National Update

TIA Tasmania seeks to address government on failures in the language services sector

Over the past few months, we have been working with employers of T&Is in Tasmania to assist them to understand their legal obligations under the current available indicative mechanisms in terms of rates of pay, classification as an employee, vs a contractor, and minimum hours.  

Discussions with employer organisations has meant we are now formulating an approach to the government as the end purchaser of T&I services, to assist them to understand that they must set rates that do not encourage organisations to underpay T&Is just to survive.  We will update you on any outcomes around this as soon as we get a response. Locally we are also seeking to encourage standards, including credentialling, so that T&Is can be recognised as professionals so that the communities will receive the best service possible. To this end we are forming a local T&I member committee so we can better understand the issues facing the industry in Tasmania and respond to concerns more swiftly than in the past.  Please contact us if you would be interested in being part of this group. tia@professionalsaustralia.org.au

WA members draw a line in the sand
Behind hard borders, WA members are back to face-to-face interpreting and again able to turn attention to the big picture: working terms and conditions. The State government's Common Use Arrangement (CUA) - the contract between government and language service providers (LSPs) - for the purchase of interpreting and translating services, is due for renewal in mid-October. The WA branch has agreed a campaign to highlight marginalisation of interpreters and translators by government 'buy cheap' and LSP 'buy market share' behaviours. At the heart of the campaign is a work to rule action. Our work is governed by various rules, laid down in policy, standards, contracts and legislation. Service users regularly make us bend, and even break those rules, for example, expecting us to turn up early, or knock off late, without paying for that time. Members are collaborating on preparations for the launch and are already having conversations with colleagues, family, friends and clients about our reasons for taking action:

  • We want an income above subsistence level.
  • We are constantly at risk because service users do not understand our role.
  • We want to provide quality interpreting.
  • We want safe working conditions.
  • We want our work to be a pleasure, not a source of stress and distress.
We will keep you updated as the campaign progresses.

TIA Queensland on Health

Interpreters employed directly by the Princess Alexandra Hospital have won their bid for their union, Professionals Australia (TIA) to be recognised as part of the Queensland Health Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). The recently certified EBA now acknowledges Professionals Australia as a party to the agreement, meaning the union can represent, run disputes and campaign on behalf of Translator and Interpreter members.

Changes to Language Services in the Health Sector

In January this year, the Health Minister, Stephen Miles, announced a plan around reforms to language services in the health sector. Any action around these reforms has been delayed by the outbreak of COVID-19. Professionals Australia remains a stakeholder in these pending reforms and will continue to represent and advocate for members to make sure your issues are addressed.  

Health and Safety Concerns in Victoria
Members in Victoria are increasingly concerned about requests for on-site bookings, and in particular, home visits during Stage 4 lockdown. COVID-19 has brought to the fore long-standing Workplace Health & Safety concerns for interpreters. A key question is that of liability and safety for casual and contract interpreters attending multiple worksites for multiple agencies. Professionals Australia (TIA) is currently addressing these concerns.

Proposal to change national pay benchmark in NSW 
The Crown Employees Award NSW which sets minimum terms for translators and interpreters employed by Multicultural NSW (MNSW) has long been considered a benchmark for minimum rates around the country. While we continue to work to increase rates around the country, MNSW wants to reduce rates and blames current market conditions. MNSW claims that while paying these rates, they are unable to compete with private agencies which pay low rates. We disagree! These ‘market conditions’ have been created by the NSW state government because they choose to underfund language services. 

Our campaign in relation to cuts to the pay and conditions outlined in the Award is intensifying. It is complicated by an employer refusing to talk to us, demarcation issues, not being a formal party to the Award etc, but we’ve never shied away from issues that matter; defending (if not improving) the pay and conditions of workers. MNSW is conducting an online ‘roadshow’ to convince translators and interpreters of what they say is the necessity for these changes. We’re asking members (non-members are welcome too) to ask the hard and important questions of MNSW during the roadshow sessions: 

  • Why aren’t you speaking to Professionals Australia? 
  • Won’t these changes just lead to a race-to-the-bottom, with private LSPs further reducing their prices to compete and undercut? 

And any other questions along these lines that you can think of!  

Stay tuned, there’s more to come in this space.