August 24, 2011
'Major pay cut' for court interpreters in Lincolnshire
COURT interpreters in Lincolnshire face a dramatic pay cut as a result of a new national database.
Linguist Lounge, operated by Applied Language Solutions (ASL), have a framework agreement to provide interpreters for all courts in England and Wales from October 1.
But interpreters say that ALS are offering them a 60-80 per cent pay cut when factoring in travel time and costs.
They are currently paid £85 for a minimum of three hours' work. They are also given travel expenses.
However, ALS will not be offering travel expenses and will be offering a new, lower three-tier rate of pay.
Director of Boston-based Talk Russian Ltd, Yelena McAfferty, said: "This deal makes it totally unviable to work. We are all refusing to sign up.
"Under these conditions, you are better off working in Asda packing shelves.
"If interpreters in Lincolnshire are not working for the agency then they will have to get them from outside the county."
ALS are asking their interpreters to take a new test as part of their requirements, even if they hold a diploma or degree.
Russian interpreter Tanya Squires said: "We are not prepared to be re-tested because to become a qualified interpreter costs a lot of money.
"There are not many qualified interpreters registered in Lincolnshire."
Miss Squires fears that students who are less qualified will have to fill in for experienced interpreters.
She said: "You have to be prepared for any task and you have to know what it involves."
Steve Brade, whose wife Patrycja works as a Polish interpreter, fears there will be miscarriages of justice as a result of the agreement.
He said: "Nobody's willing to sign the contract. I know only one person that's done it. It seems ASL have taken the contract on without having anyone in place.
"There are already businesses in Scotland who have similar agreements and there have been miscarriages of justice reported in Scotland."
His wife Patrycja Walewska-Brade said that to become a qualified interpreter already costs thousands of pounds.
She said: "Basically we are going to be working for free."
Miss McAfferty said that the Professional Interpreters' Alliance will be looking for a judicial review into the decision.
She said: "We believe this is the only way to save our profession before hundreds of us will have to make tough decisions."
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "The Government is determined to ensure taxpayers get value for money across the whole of the justice system. We have announced that we will cut interpretation costs by at least £18 million a year, whilst still ensuring high quality interpreters and translators are available to those in need."