An important step forward for translators & interpreters
Rules in the Consumer & Competitions Act put restrictions on Professionals Australia ability to provide detailed advice on fair rates of pay and other terms for translators and interpreters who are engaged as independent contractors – that is the majority working in the industry. The restrictions extend to an ability to collectively bargain. The rules are in place to protect consumers from the damaging effects of collusion that leads to price fixing.
But it is hard to argue that there is any public benefit in making these rules apply to translators and interpreters – many who are paid below the minimum wage. So, as part of our efforts to overcome these barriers, Professionals Australia asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to grant us additional options to support and represent members.
Earlier this month the ACCC delivered its ‘draft determination’ in response to our application. The Commission has proposed to give Professionals Australia the capacity to collectively negotiate the terms of engagement for translators and interpreters who are independent contractors, as well as provide advice about fair rates of pay and other terms of contract for service. We should not underestimate the importance of this as it will give us more options to represent members and fight for a better language services industry.
Professionals Australia now joins three other unions (MEAA, TWU & CFMEU) across two industries (Owner Drivers and Freelance Journalists) who have successful fought for an exemption from the ACCC so ‘collusion’ penalties do not apply.
There are a number of public benefits to allowing translators and interpreters to collectively bargain that the ACCC has cited in its determination. These benefits include improved access to information and negotiated outcomes that better reflect the issues that are relevant to the industry – meaning that more experienced practitioners are attracted to and remain in the industry.
While there’s still some way to go, and we have to wait for the final determination in June, we wanted to share this promising news with all members of Professionals Australia.
Members interested in reading the draft determination can visit the ACCC site: http://registers.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1130021/fromItemId/278039/display/acccCorrespondence