Thursday, 8 November 2012

Our lips are sealed: what we are fighting for in the UK and why 
By Marc Starr 

Our lips are sealed: what we are fighting for in the UK and why 
[…] "Interpreters and translators have been portrayed as leech-like animals, sucking resources out of the public purse. First of all, we have shown what the wider costs of not using us are. Secondly, where do you think our pay goes? On various taxable goods and services that go back into the exchequer. Thirdly and perhaps most interestingly, and speaking for myself, even when doing public service interpreting, my work did include some written translation and some of that was for overseas clients. That means our skills bring revenue into the UK exchequer from other economies. We are, effectively, exporters to some extent. The UK government should be proud of us. Instead, we have spent three years as virtual pariahs.
Whatever the MOJ wants to misguidedly believe, the events of 2012 have vindicated my insistence to colleagues that we did have a skill that was as rare and valuable as we believed. Interpreters do not want to be seen as concentrating on rates. The only way to resolve this is to recognise the standing of the profession, retain the talent there is, and build on it. This is what the MOJ was urged to do in the first place by a profession that knew what would happen, but instead they fell into the hands of Applied Language Solutions.
Most – in fact, almost all – NRPSI interpreters just want to go back to work and be paid a rate that is commensurate with our skills and that recognises the degree of refinement that skill has, combined with the depth of experience and knowledge we have. There is a song from the early 80s, recorded by both the Go-Gos and Fun Boy Three, because it was co-written by members of each group, and it is called “Our Lips Are Sealed”. Although the origins of the song’s lyrics are a far cry from our situation, it still speaks volumes.
Until there is some concrete action to make good on the crucial role we have now proven we play, as far as police and court interpreting is concerned, I won’t be taking on a single job – my lips remain sealed."

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