New Events


no events posted in last week

Blog Feeds

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Oliver Callan: Back in his box

offsite link Elaine Byrne: Lacking moral courage to name names Anthony

offsite link Real democracies and referendums Anthony

offsite link Public Services Card: Some still forced to comply Anthony

offsite link Catholic Church: Dark influence still active Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Beijing sees Trump?s hand and won?t fold Sat May 30, 2020 18:51 | amarynth
by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission With Sinophobic hysteria reaching new heights in US, China’s counter play is a massive new economic plan Stranger things have happened. Everyone was

offsite link Corona proving the loser of the Cold War was both the USSR & the USA Sat May 30, 2020 18:41 | amarynth
by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog It is often boasted in the US that they forced the implosion of the USSR via military overspending, as if recklessly creating a

offsite link US Department Of State Is Butthurt By SouthFront Work, Once Again Fri May 29, 2020 20:16 | amarynth
South Front The fog of war over the censorship of SouthFront on YouTube and Facebook has cleared away. As we wrote earlier, SouthFront was attacked because of our coverage of

offsite link Who Rules the World and How? Fri May 29, 2020 19:40 | The Saker
by Francis Lee for The Saker Blog Unquestionably, the world ? circa 2020 – seems currently to be moving away from democratic forms of rule and transmuting into more totalitarian

offsite link Russian fighters intercept us B-1B over the Black Sea Fri May 29, 2020 17:51 | The Saker

The Saker >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

offsite link Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Defend the right to form a Trade Union!

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | feature author Sunday June 29, 2008 18:30author by Jack White - WSMauthor email wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

featured image
Solidarity can beat the Bosses!

This Friday, the 4th of July marks the start of a week of actions against Lionbridge, a multinational translation and software development company in support of the right of workers to organise in trade unions.

Groups of workers from Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Spain, America and elsewhere will hold pickets outside the offices of Lionbridge to mark the start of a case taken against the company in Poland by Jakub G.

Jakub has been working for the company for almost 8 years and received several promotions before becoming active as a trade-union organizer. Shortly after a union was formed in Warsaw he was fired by Lionbridge. To get around the Polish law which prohibits the sacking of union representatives without good cause, the bosses said that Jakob had leaked confidential company information to an internet website.

The allegation was a lie and the information referred to is long in the public domain. It was certainly not confidential, in fact even the Irish Independent has written about it.

We interviewed Jakub to find out why he was involved in starting a union in Lionbridge, why he was fired and what is happening now.

What led to your decision to form a union in Lionbridge?

Trade unions are an essential tool that empowers workers to stand up for their rights and forge links with other fellow workers. The current political climate in Poland is extremely hostile to trade-unions and bosses are doing what they can to portray workers organizations as an "obstacle to progress". Unfortunately, many workers seem to believe the ideology of the ruling class. Many people in other countries remember the "Solidarity" movement and believe that unions are a strong and respected part of Polish society. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Today, unionized workers represent only a small fraction of the workforce and union rights are constantly curtailed by new neoliberal legislation.

The office workers sector in particular is very weakly unionised - that's why organizing workers in a company like Lionbridge is so important. The policies of cost-cutting and related cuts in bonuses and frozen wage rises are strongly felt, as global corporations try to maximize profits, thus accelerating the global economic downturn. In this context, workers are always last to receive proper compensation for their work. The situation of external temporary contractors is even worse.

A union is simply indispensable to stop the relentless erosion of working conditions.

Lionbridge - attempting to smash Unions!

How did the company find out about it?

We made no secret of it - the existence of the union was announced publicly as soon as it was registered. We did not disclose the full membership of the union, which at first was over 15% of the 300 people employed in the Warsaw office.

The company made attempts to find out the full list of membership - which legally it is only allowed to do in case mass layoffs are planned. We knew there were no legal grounds for this request and we kept the membership secret, with the exception of elected trade-union representatives which are protected by the Labour Code. We expected problems, but we hoped the company would respect the Labor Code.

How did they react?

The first reactions were fairly typical. It started with comments about how "trade-unions are a threat to the competitiveness of a company", how "the US based headquarters of the company would decide to move production to non-unionised countries like China and India" and how "the Polish subsidiary would lose jobs because the trade-union was formed". The bosses made it sound like the trade-union is the worst thing that could happen to workers. That's not surprising to hear this type of statements from capitalists who benefit from other people's low wages - but it's sad to hear workers pick up this sort of thinking.

What did the company claim the reason for firing you was?

Of course they didn't say that I'm being fired because I am a trade-union organizer. The Polish Labour Code tries to protect elected union officials from being dismissed. They had to find other reasons. What they did, is actually common practice in Poland nowadays. They used the pretext that was used in dozens of other cases of dismissed union-members in Poland - the alleged disclosing of secret company information. Irish readers might not realize, but workers in Poland are not expected to speak about their salaries or working conditions with other workers or - god forbid - the press. This type of information is considered as an asset of the company that safeguards its competitiveness. Needless to say that workers bargaining power is hampered by this type of secrecy. And this is exactly what the bosses want. Coming back to the pretext used against me - I was accused of publishing an article that allegedly disclosed "secrets" and at the same time "untrue" information (how some piece of information can be at the same time "secret", presumably stolen and "untrue", presumably fabricated is beyond me). It was also argued that the article could damage the share price of the company, and nothing short of causing panic on the Wall Street. The fact that the company's shares kept falling steadily since the new Lionbridge management took control, after the acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions, did not matter. The low performance of the stock could not have been the effect of, say, the mismanagement of the company, could it? The fact that another person admitted having written the article did not matter either. It didn't even matter that the information contained in the article in question has been published months before by the mainstream press, including The Independent in Ireland, the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" and many other publications, including the Lionbridge website itself!.

What was the reaction of your collegues?

Management got what they wanted, at least for a while - my colleagues understood that unions are a scary business and preferred to step back and wait to see what will happen next. Even symbolic solidarity gestures, such as sending a protest letter to the management were harshly criticised as being "disloyal" and workers got a clear signal that any action on their part would mean them getting in trouble. At the same time, the management also offered them bonuses that seemed impossible to obtain just a few months before. All this combined ensured that the managers slowed down the development of a real workers representation in the workplace.

What is happening with your case now?

The first court hearing will take place on July 4th. This is the day a picket will be organized in front of different Lionbridge offices, including Dublin. The legal case I have filed against Lionbridge is fairly strong - in essence public information available on the internet for everyone to read cannot be treated as a secret. The company's lawyers must be aware of that if they are worth the money Lionbridge is paying them. It is usual that the Polish Labour Courts re-instate trade-union members dismissed from their workplaces.

However, it does not mean that the case will be over soon, as the company has a lot of money to spend on expensive lawyers and appeals.

Can you tell us about the demonstrations being organised in other countries?

Yes, demonstrations are planned in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Denmark, Germany and the USA. We are trying to work with different networks and organizations concerned about workers rights and social justice, such as the International Workers' Association, Workers Solidarity Movement, Industrial Workers of the World and others...

What do you hope they will achieve?

It is quite probable that Lionbridge will be forced to undo their illegal dismissal and forced to show more consideration for basic workers rights in the future. I also hope that more self-organization amongst workers in Lionbridge will emerge as a result of the publicity around this case. This would be an unexpected outcome for the corporate managers who maybe hoped to crush the union movement once and for all.

There will be a picket placed on the office of Lionbridge in Dun Laoghaire on Friday the 4th of June from 1 to 2.
If you can make it along your support would be appreciated. The office is located at:
3 West Pier Business Campus
Dun Laoghaire

If you cannot make it out please consider contacting Lionbridge to let them know that you support Jakub and the right of workers to organise in Trade Unions:

Tel: 01 202 1200

Send a copy of the e-mail to the union:

Related Link:
author by Leopold Doompublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 06:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dublin office:
Tel: 01 202 1200
Fax: 01 202 1299

Warsaw office:
Tel.: +48 22 865 99 00
Fax: +48 22 865 99 30

author by Bart Simpsom - MLF - Munchkin Liberation Frontpublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 07:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

author by Stuartpublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 09:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish electorate just voted out the Charter of Fundamental Rights and its worker protections, a major element of the Lisbon Treaty, which would have been ratified at EU level. Workers could take the governments of countries like UK and Ireland, vehement opponents of EU worker legislation, to the ECJ to enforce their rights.

author by D_Dpublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SIPTU's pre-referendum pamphlet had at least one strength: it demonstrated clearly that the rights in the Charter, including "the benefits of collective bargaining" (SIPTU), did not apply until they were legislated for. In a number of other areas the Lisbon Treaty would have WEAKENED the position of labour.

For more on this cf. and

Incidentally, I heard Senator Joe O'Toole on Marion yesterday describe the Lisbon Treaty as, through the Charter, "manna from heaven" for trade unionists. This from the man who described Benchmarking as "an ATM machine" for public sector workers.

author by Kot - ZSPpublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think Euroenthusiast needs to look more at the reality than at "rights" given on the paper. Poland is good example of most Euroenthusiast country, there is right to form a union guaranteed, but at same time, employers are demanding more rights to fire people. In the reality, the bosses here very many times fire the union leaders and initiators, but never it is officially because they started union. Usually they look and find that Kowalski was late twice six months ago or that somebody made a mistake last year on the paperwork --- any small bullshit that normal people are not fired for that. EU writes about the workers have rights but at same time they try to make everything that employers have more opportunities for flexible contracts, that the money moves easy, even the Bolkestein EU tried to make. Are these things good for working people? What about minimum wage for EU? That would be the real help for millions of people. How many jobs from Ireland got sent to Poland because the bosses want to earn more money? Why should I get less money than you? Everything is fucking expensive man. I have nothing from my job. I have no money extra and I can't buy the same things like the people working THE EXACT SAME JOB in Ireland. EU doesn't care about the equal pay and the equal work conditions. They try to make "competitive" economy, what means SHIT for workers because we competing with the China.

author by Lost in Translation - National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translatorspublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 15:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lionbridge is one of the companies which is driving down rates throughout the industry. It's long-term goals are to optimise the use of machine translation and to outsource jobs to reduce labour costs. In Ireland they are infamous for providing the courts with poorly-skilled interpreters who often have no professional qualifications.

I would suppose that the staff at the Polish office is paid only a third of what Lionbridgers earn in the US, UK or in Ireland and that the staff in India earn only a fraction of that. Ideally translators around the world should agree on some industry-wide pay standards.

I am sorry to hear that Lionbridge has responded to the union in such a way and hope that they will reconsider their position.

Related Link:
author by Nobody - Nonepublication date Wed Jul 02, 2008 23:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was sent to everyone in Polish office:

On behalf of the management I would like to inform You that we received information about a pikiet against our firm, planned for next Friday, in relation to the so-called threatened workers rights and the disciplinary firing of a former employee of Lionbridge Poland, a representative of trade unions. According to our knowledge, the pikiet is supported by anarchist and antiglobalist organizations. The time of the pikiet is appointed for 4 July, the first process in the Labour Court in the case which started the former employee.

As we already informed earlier, dismissal of the employee was caused by reasons independent of activites in unions.
Lionbridge Poland, like other branches of the Corporation, didn't take and doesn't take actions with the aim to break
freedom of workers to form union organizations. The reason of the disciplinary dismissal was the serious breaking of the basic work obligations, in this the consciously acting to damage the employer by tranferring to internet pages not true informations, aimed at the good name of the Company and other illegal conducts, like disclosing the secrets of the entrepenor and transfering confidential internal documents outside the firm despite the accepted in the firm rules of keeping the work secrets.

Those actions hit the interests of Lionbridge as a listed company especially vulnerable on even the smallest changes
of investors moods. In consequence, this made a threat to the social security of each of its workers. The management of the firm had a duty to act against this. The acting of our former colleague also after leaving the work and his further actions against the interests of the firm and the values represented by the Corporation, expressing themself among other things in wide publications of opinions enemy to the firm, only confirm validity of our decision about necessariness of disciplinary dismissal which the whole management of the firm Lionbridge Poland supported unanimously.

According to the rules, it is not possible to reconcile the confict of employee's loyality to an international corporation with global range and activeness in anarchist organization which have the aim to fight with all the corporations. We have in this case that conflict of loyalty. As it seems, in this case won the rights of anarchist and antiglobalist groups which our former employee puts above loyalty in relation to us, all of workers of Lionbridge. In this situation, the demand of returning to work is contradicting the rules of common social life. Let us appeal to our former employee to stop attacks aimed against his former firm and all of the society of Lionbridge employees who interest - if he was a real union activist - he should defend.

As a person connected with the firm from the first moments of her existence in Poland, as a participant and witness of dynamic development, I would like at the end to appeal to everyone to protect our common earning, in this the good name of the firm. I believe we are in the condition to overcome all barriers and solve problems in our own group without resorting to media manipulations.

Szanowni Państwo!
W imieniu kierownictwa firmy chciałbym Państwa poinformować, że
dotarła do nas informacja o planowanej na najbliższy piątek pikiecie
przeciwko naszej firmie, zapowiadanej w związku z rzekomo zagrożonymi prawami pracowniczymi i dyscyplinarnym zwolnieniem byłego pracownika Lionbridge Poland, przedstawiciela związków zawodowych. Według posiadanej przez nas wiedzy pikieta jest wspierana przez organizacje anarchistyczne i antyglobalistyczne. Termin pikiety jest związany z wyznaczoną na 4 lipca pierwszą rozprawą w Sądzie Pracy w sprawie jaką wytoczył firmie były pracownik.

Jak już informowaliśmy wcześniej, zwolnienie pracownika nastąpiło z
przyczyn całkowicie niezależnych od jego działalności w związkach
zawodowych. Lionbridge Poland, podobnie jak inne oddziały Korporacji, nie podejmowały i nie podejmują działań mających na celu łamanie wolności zrzeszania się pracowników w organizacje związkowe.

Powodem dyscyplinarnego zwolnienia było ciężkie naruszenie
podstawowych obowiązków pracowniczych, w tym świadome działanie na szkodę pracodawcy poprzez przekazywanie na stronach internetowych nieprawdziwych informacji, godzących w dobre imię Spółki i inne bezprawne zachowania, takie jak ujawnienie tajemnicy przedsiębiorstwa oraz przekazywanie poufnych dokumentów wewnętrznych poza firmę wbrew przyjętym w firmie zasadom przestrzegania tajemnicy służbowej.

Działania te uderzały w interesy Linbridge jako spółki giełdowej
szczególnie narażonej na nawet najmniejsze zmiany nastrojów
inwestorów. W konsekwencji przekładało się to na zagrożenie
bezpieczeństwa socjalnego każdego z jej pracowników. Kierownictwo firmy miało obowiązek temu przeciwdziałać.
Postawa naszego niedawnego kolegi także po rozwiązaniu stosunku pracy, jego dalsze działania przeciwko interesom firmy oraz reprezentowanym przez Korporację wartościom, wyrażające się między innymi w szerokim publikowaniu opinii jednoznacznie wrogich firmie, jedynie potwierdza zasadność naszej decyzji o konieczności dyscyplinarnego zwolnienia, którą całe kierownictwo firmy Lionbridge Poland poparło jednogłośnie.

Zapewne z zasady niemożliwy jest do pogodzenia konflikt lojalności
pracownika międzynarodowej korporacji o globalnym zasięgu z
aktywnością w anarchistycznych organizacjach stawiających sobie za cel walkę z wszelkimi korporacjami. Z takim konfliktem lojalności mamy w tym przypadku do czynienia. Jak się wydaje, w tym przypadku zwyciężyły racje ugrupowań anarchistycznych i antyglobalistycznych, które nasz były pracownik przedkłada ponad lojalność w stosunku do nas, wszystkich pracowników Lionbridge.
W tej sytuacji żądanie przywrócenia do pracy jest sprzeczne z
zasadami współżycia społecznego. Zwróćmy się także do naszego byłego pracownika, aby zaprzestał ataków wymierzonych przeciwko swojej byłej firmie i całej społeczności pracowników Lionbridge, których interesów - jeśli byłby prawdziwym działaczem związkowym - powinien bronić.

Jako osoba związana z firmą od pierwszych chwil jej istnienia w
Polsce, jako uczestnik i świadek jej dynamicznego rozwoju, chciałbym na koniec zaapelować do wszystkich o ochronę naszego wspólnego dorobku, w tym dobrego imienia firmy. Wierzę, że jesteśmy w stanie pokonać wszystkie bariery i rozwiązywać problemy we własnym gronie, rzeczowo i bez uciekania się do manipulacji medialnych.

author by Laure Akai - ZSPpublication date Thu Jul 03, 2008 13:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Saying that somebody cannot work in a company because of his or her political affiliations is a clear violation of the Labor Code.

The company's letter is very sleazy. The author of the letter repeats the unfounded allegations against our friend but also suggests that by protesting against this unfair dismissal, the victim is threating the financial stability of company and implying that this will hurt his co-workers. A good unionist should sit back and shut up while people are unfairly dismissed or even while the law is violated.

In the meanwhile, the company has proven its loyalty to its employees by deciding every year to cut more and more jobs in Europe and move them to cheaper countries.

Surely in every company there are different sorts, and some will buy this crap, but we can see how the firm's strategy is backfiring.

The case is looking not only to be about union-busting but also to be about personal politics.

The company keeps repeating lies about revealing confidential information, although it is quite clear that no confidential information was leaked. What they allege would also be quite illogical: if our friend wanted to leak information, why didn't he really do it? Surely after so many years in the company, after dealing with so many financial documents and other matters, he would have access to much more interesting information that I was able to come across - so why didn't he use it?

The people in that firm are some sort of complete morons. The lawyer (from the Warsaw branch of Lovells) also seems to be rather clueless. In letters to the courts, they claim that the offensive article contained info about the value of the company's contract with the Irish courts and that it "proves" the leak because only our friend new it, but I found the value of the contract by typing "Lionbridge" and "Ireland" into a google search - and the info comes from the company's own web page! That's supposed to be their "proof"? In fact, they have no proof, so they can only resort to red baiting and scare tactics. Now they are insulting the intelligence of their employees. Pathetic.

author by Padraicpublication date Sun Jul 06, 2008 22:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anarchists, trade unionists and social justice activists placed a placed a lunchtime picket on the offices of Lionbride in Dun Laoghaire on Friday the 4th of July as part of an International Week of Solidarity with Jakub G, a longstanding Polish Lionbridge employe who was fired for encouraging fellow workers to join a union to protect their pay and conditions in Lionbridge's Warsaw office.

Despite the fact that workers had been warned not to speak to the 'dangerous anarchists' by Lionbridge management the picket in Dun Laoghaire was a good natured affair with about 20 activists distributing more than 100 leaflets to workers leaving or returning to work on their lunchbreak. Before we finished up Damian Moran of the Pitstop Ploughshares spoke about some of the labour and other struggles recently engaged in in Poland.

Meanwhile the case taken by Jakub against Lionbridge in the Polish Labour Court also started on Friday. Lionbridge claim to have dismissed Jakub for publishing an article online which leaked “confidential company information”. No proof of that allegation was given, and in fact another person has admitted to writing the article. The article in question was in fact based entirely on information publicly available on the internet. Lionbridge claim they can prove Jakub wrote the piece yet yesterday asked that the case be postponed until August so that they could prepare their evidence. (see here for a full account of what went on in court: )

We're confident that Jakub wil win his case and he will continue to have our support to ensure that he does so.




author by ZSP - ZSPpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 14:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks to all who were at the picket! Your solidarity means a lot!

author by BApublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 14:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am writing to express my support for Jakub and the right of workers to organise in Trade Unions.

Lionbridge is not only driving down rates throughout the industry but it is also lowering interpreting standards in Ireland (and I am sure around the globe) by hiring unqualified, low paid interpreters to work in the Irish courts. This has an impact not only on the quality of interpreting and the income of both staff and freelance interpreters in Ireland but also on the quality of the legal service provided to non English speakers in the Irish courts. This effectively affects their right to fair access to justice.

Your company is a total disgrace. The lack of quality in the services it provides is well know in Ireland, where Lionbidge is considered a joke company among professional interpreters: national media have reported on the frustration expressed by judges in Irish courts due to being presented with interpreters that are not trained, do not behave professionally and cannot do the job. Some Lionbridge community interpreters (not all by any means) do not consider interpreting as their profession but as an easy job to get as far as they have some English.

Lionbridge do not even seem to provide its interpreters with a standard code of practice – or if it does, it is not obvious. It is up to Lionbridge to support its interpreters and ensure they are respected by legal professionals, who due to the lack of respect for them do not provide them with the information they need to do their work properly.

And now your company sinks lower yet by sacking a unionised worker. But we will not allow for further erosion of workers’ rights.

I am sorry I did not make the picket outside your Dublin offices – unfortunately I found out too late. I shall be there in future pickets.

author by Court Interpreter - No political organizationpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 23:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am a professional court translator from the state of Maryland, USA. I read about this case and would like to comment on the issue of standards in the industry.

Lionbridge offers its own court interpreter certification, which is recognized in many states in lieu of a state court certification or a federal one. The pass rate for the Lionbridge certification is much higher than for most other certifications. I know a couple of people who possess both the Lionbridge certification and the federal one and they have said that this is because the former is much easier. In some states Lionbridge interpreters are graded lower than a court certified translator. The courts are generally required to give preference to the better qualified interpreters but there is sometimes no certification available for speakers of rarer languages. This is where Lionbridge makes a lot of money. They have a huge database of freelancers in many languages. However, it’s widely known that they are not too picky and if they have a request for a rarer language, they’ll give the job to anybody. They are known to hire students and other non-professionals.

I read somewhere that full-time translators and interpretations tend to have BAs and MAs whereas a far higher proportion of freelances do not. This means that a lot of students and non-educated people are working in the industry.

Theoretically, the interpreters have to take a test and can get some training but in reality it’s not enough. One might say that getting a poor interpreter is better than getting no interpreter at all but I’d prefer to see everyone get a good one. I have seen the Lionbridge interpreters in the immigration courts. This is a very demanding job which requires skill and a high level of concentration. I am not sure that all of their translators are up to the task, although I have met a few which are excellent professionals.

Generally interpreters here make from between $30 - $45 per hour, depending on the time of day or night and some other factors. I remember reading that Lionbridge takes about $93 an hour for this service, even more for Japanese. They charge only about $75 to the courts for Spanish and Creole interpretation and the interpreters naturally get less as well. For phone interpretation they get about $2 a minute. I think this is mostly for immigration and asylum cases.

This may seen like a lot of money for people in Poland. I’m sure you earn a lot less over there. But ten or fifteen years ago we were getting more money than now. That’s the result of the big firms taking over the market. In general, the smaller firms both charge less to the client and pay more to the freelancer. Some very good freelancers can earn $60,000 or even more per year, which is good, but not a very high salary for the legal profession. Most people earn about $40-45,000 per year and try to supplement their income. This wouldn’t be such a bad salary if it weren’t for the fact that we have to pay all our costs. We get no health care or retirement benefits. I’m making less money than I was 15 years ago because the big corporate firms have driven the rates down. I try not to work for them so I can keep more of my own earnings but it’s getting harder and harder to compete.

It would be better for everybody involved if the courts and other public institutions chose small firms or hired more people directly. They would pay less and we would be paid more. I suppose it must have to do with the scale of business. Maybe they prefer just to deal with just one or two giants than with dozens of smaller firms but this practice is costing us taxpayers a lot of money. Most of the money goes into the Lion’s pockets to pay paper pushers and shareholders. An entry level office worker at Lionbridge makes more money than I do and I’ve been in the profession for over 15 years.

Professional organizations should be taking steps to fight this downward trend. I have nothing against far leftists and am a liberal humanist myself but I am afraid that if this issue is seen as too political, a lot of people may be turned off. I read the interview with the guy they fired and it was very good but I found it on an anarchist page. I’m open-minded, but some people may be scared off and that would be a shame because people should hear what you have to say. Therefore it would make sense to try to bring the professional organizations in on the issue. I don’t know anything about unions but I think it would also be a positive development to have more steady, unionized interpretation and translation jobs with health care and other benefits. This would be one way to ensure that translation remains a good profession which educated professionals would like to be in.

author by Killbait - n/apublication date Tue Jul 08, 2008 21:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another freelancer here. I put my CV in to all the companies and I did a couple of translations for Lionbridge a while back. They only contacted me a couple of times and I had no idea whether this had to do with the quality of my work or what. When I finally did get a job with them, it was a long time before I got paid for it. After the last job I did for them, I decided to fuck 'em. It's not worth the hassle.

A couple of months ago I had dinner with a friend from college whose ex was a project manager at Lionbridge and we were talking about how they work. He said that probably I was too expensive for the company. When you apply for work there, you have no idea about what rates they offer. You have to send them your rate but you have no idea whether yours is competitive or not. After graduating, I had to pay off the student loans, and I thought about submitting an even higher rate, but in the end I told them I'd work for 12 cents per word since I read that was the average rate. My friend told me that company had a policy of using the cheapest people and I should have told them I'd work for 6 or 8 cents. He didn't know what the normal rates are like there but I know that I have no problem getting 12 cents per word at other agencies.

The translation firms are all competing with each other, I've seen companies offer as low as 5 cents per word. I have no idea what they try to pay their translators. The best firms charge about 20-22 cents. I don't mind getting 12 cents if the company's getting 20 but it's outrageous if they are taking 65 or 75%. I know they charge much more for the less common languages.

author by RTT - -publication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 08:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Keep in mind that's just hearsay. I don't believe many people are willing to work for 6 cents a word. At least in the US. Although with all the advances in technology, translators can work faster than ever. The amount of words produced no longer indicate the time spent on the translation.

author by Killbait - n/apublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 09:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Spanish translators have to offer low rates because there are so many of them on the market, People with less common combinations still have some clout, provided there is enough demand.

You hit on a good point: the technology. Lionbridge uses Logoport and gathers information for the translation memory. The more translators put into the memory, the more automated the process becomes. Instead of being a time-saving device for translators, the companies are cutting costs with this. Translation costs are being slashed by this process.

author by Irelandpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 15:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

March 2009: last week Lionbridge representatives started phoning court interpreters based in Ireland to say that the Irish Government was forcing them to reduce their rates. They told the interpreters who were earning €25 (recruited before June 2007) that they would be paid €18 per hour from the 1st April. They told the other interpreters who were on €20 that they would be paid €15 per hour.
As you can imagine a lot of interpreters were very unhappy at this reduction. A couple of days later Lionbridge made a small concession. They would pay €18 to all interpreters. That means a 28% reduction for the people who used to be on €25.
It turns out that the reason for the reduction was because the Courts Service had contacted all contractors to reduce their rates by 8% in accordance with government policy. You would expect the company to share this reduction with the interpreters but instead Lionbridge wanted to ensure that they continue to make healthy profits.
The Courts Service used to pay Lionbridge €46 per hour. This will go down 8% to €42, of which €18 will go to the interpreter. That leaves a €24 margin for Lionbridge.
In the Netherlands, court interpreters are paid €43 per hour. In the UK, court interpreters are paid per half day or per full day.

Related Link:
Number of comments per page
© 2001-2020 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy