18 October 2011
Stop interpreting in legal services being privatised, says Unite
Unite, the largest union in the country, is backing a campaign to stop the interpreting and translation services in the legal, police and probation arenas being privatised.
Unite, which embraces the National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators (NUPIT), is launching the Speak Up, Speak Out campaign in Room 8 at the House of Commons on Thursday 20 October between 12pm-2pm.
Unite is concerned that the Ministry of Justice has signed an agreement with the agency, Applied Language Solutions (ALS), which will soon be supplying interpreters for courts and tribunals. The police and probation services are expected to follow.
Unite regional officer Andrew Murray said: ”We fear that this is the classic cocktail of privatisation – an inferior service for vulnerable people seeking legal redress who don’t have the necessary skills in English; and a lessening of the terms and conditions for the interpreting workforce.
”We are concerned that when this agency takes over, some people will be given a second-class service because this agency will not be able to provide enough interpreters of the required level of linguistic skill and competence.
”We feel it is wrong to introduce the profit motive into our justice system. Economies made by cutting interpreters’ pay will be used to finance the running of a commercial company and will not, therefore, bring the savings that justice secretary, Ken Clarke, is seeking.“
Unite wants the justice ministry to reverse this privatisation policy and is calling for the interpreters and translators to lobby their MPs. There are about 2,300 interpreters who will be affected by these changes.