Translators Trade Unions?
Thread poster: Igor Indruch

Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:15
English to Czech
Mar 31, 2011

Well, dear colleagues, am I the only one who is rather alarmed by these days trends? Right now I received an email from one agency that they are : ”changing the payment model“ and will no longer pay for this or that… also they wrote about “revising machine translations”.
Well, in my opinion, all this is just cheating and we cannot tolerate it any longer. The question is: Are we able to do something?
Diminishing rates because of CAT tools – OK, CAT tools help. But does any client consider that we are forced to use two or three basic CAT tools and even more client applications based on Trados etc. to accommodate our client’s requirements? Who will pay us for training and acquiring expensive software?
And machine translations? Do you ever tried to “revise” machine translation? What is more difficult? To translate it from original text or amend the “translation”? Machine translations will never work unless there will be a real A.I.
Translating is creative work. We have to continually update our skills and knowledge. And hardly anybody seems to appreciate this. Everybody is just pressing the rates. And some of us, who are less skilled, are unfortunately willing to work for such low rates.
So – are we just forced to accept the reality or are we able to change it? Let me know. Maybe it is time to speak out loud.


 

Ivan Rocha, CT
Canada
English to Portuguese
+ ...
We need unions... Mar 31, 2011

...like we need bullets in our heads. Unions are the single most destructive force in the labour market today, and if they served a need in the newly industrialized world, nowadays they serve nobody but their cadres.

The good, competent translators will survive the current trend. The others will be eliminated from the market - as they should.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
German to English
+ ...
Unions are for employees Apr 1, 2011

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against unions. I have several family members who are union members, and more power to them. But you are a business owner and not an employee. What you have to do is figure out how to optimize your business to get past this low end of the market. That might mean investing in CAT tools or in education, changing your marketing efforts, networking at conferences, etc. There are any number of books, websites, seminars, and other resources out there for small business people that will give you ideas. I do think that the economy has affected certain sectors and countries more than others, but the things you describe are characteristic of a particular segment of the market, not the market as a whole.

 

Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:15
English to Czech
TOPIC STARTER
I must work on my irony (at least in English) :o) Apr 1, 2011

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against unions. I have several family members who are union members, and more power to them. But you are a business owner and not an employee. What you have to do is figure out how to optimize your business to get past this low end of the market. That might mean investing in CAT tools or in education, changing your marketing efforts, networking at conferences, etc. There are any number of books, websites, seminars, and other resources out there for small business people that will give you ideas. I do think that the economy has affected certain sectors and countries more than others, but the things you describe are characteristic of a particular segment of the market, not the market as a whole.


icon_smile.gif) I thought that the ironic tone of my post was more evidenticon_smile.gif) I am in business for about 20 years now, so I do not need „ideas“. Fortunately, I have some really good clients as well.

But that does not mean that emails about "new payment model" do not make me angry.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2011-04-01 03:24 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I am not an employee! Apr 1, 2011

Thank you!icon_smile.gif

We already have associations. In the case of Spain, and probably other countries, what we need is that associations unite and work towards their official recognition and that of their members, in the sense of a college of translators and interpreters.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Let's stop talking and act now! Apr 1, 2011

Igor Indruch wrote:
Are we able to do something?

Yes, of course we are! We can simply reject absurd proposals. I have already asked to be deleted from the infamous company that decided to cease paying for 100% matches.

Igor Indruch wrote:
Who will pay us for training and acquiring expensive software?

Nobody. You invest in tools and training yourself to be able to access a market, just as in any other trade. Just your decision.

Igor Indruch wrote:
And machine translations? Do you ever tried to “revise” machine translation? What is more difficult? To translate it from original text or amend the “translation”? Machine translations will never work unless there will be a real A.I.

I agree. But the answer is quite simple: don't do MT review! Your decision too.

Igor Indruch wrote:
So – are we just forced to accept the reality or are we able to change it? Let me know. Maybe it is time to speak out loud.

I think that we speak too much. What we need is action, and action can only come from personal belief in action.

In our case, action is as simple as promoting good customers (by serving them with the utmost care so that they can succeed) and ceasing to work for customers who propose absurd conditions. If only 90% of good translators acted that way, bad customers would get awful translations and their business would fade away in the long run. That is the kind of action in which I believe!


 

Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:15
English to Czech
TOPIC STARTER
Cheer up! :o) Apr 1, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
In our case, action is as simple as promoting good customers (by serving them with the utmost care so that they can succeed) and ceasing to work for customers who propose absurd conditions. If only 90% of good translators acted that way, bad customers would get awful translations and their business would fade away in the long run. That is the kind of action in which I believe!


Of course. As I already pointed out, this topic was meant to be little bit provocative. It is quite evident, that anything like TU would never work in our environment. That would require 100% cooperation of all translators around the globe, which is, quite naturally, impossible. (And then we would face accusations of unfair practicesicon_smile.gif. )
But still I think it is necessary to talk and write about it again and again. Mainly for new translators to realize that they do not need to accept any conditions to get the job. And that it is quite necessary to plan ahead because accepting low rates and „penalties“ can lead even to such things like chronic fatigue syndrome or burnout. Or wrists injuryicon_smile.gif
I really “like” offers like this: “give as lower rates, we will give you more work” – s**t! Who wants work more for less?!icon_smile.gif
So stay on your ground and be confident that you deserve what you ask for.
…well, I cannot resist:
Translators of the world, unite!icon_smile.gif


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:15
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Tools Apr 1, 2011

Any business needs tools. If a plumber does not keep up with technology he/she will lose job opportunities.
But every plumber knows, that he puts the acquisition costs onto the bill. Too many of us seem to forget that when it comes to put their costs for CAT and other software onto the bill. Instead they give discounts. Its the economy, stupid!


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
For interest (I hope) Apr 1, 2011

Igor Indruch wrote:

Of course. As I already pointed out, this topic was meant to be little bit provocative. It is quite evident, that anything like TU would never work in our environment. That would require 100% cooperation of all translators around the globe, which is, quite naturally, impossible. (And then we would face accusations of unfair practicesicon_smile.gif. )

…well, I cannot resist:
Translators of the world, unite!icon_smile.gif


I'm sorry to say, old chap, that the irony was lost on me too, initially. No matter, it happens to us all. Still, there are those who take the idea seriously, to a greater or lesser degree, and I had a little something to say about it on my blog (shameless self promotion, but relevant!) here:
http://cbavington.com/blog/2011/02/06/no-peanuts-no-thanks/
and to a lesser extent in terms of relevance but a greater extent in terms of length(!), here:
http://cbavington.com/blog/2011/03/04/snappy-titles-no-thanks/

Fraternally yours, comrade
Charlie


 
Direct action is the answer Apr 1, 2011

We have a trade union for interpreters and translators in the UK (look it up online or see the list of translators’ associations here on ProZ.com), they are very supportive and friendly, however there isn’t really much they can do for us because we are all self-employed / freelance workers.

We all know most translators’ associations don’t do much for interpreters/translators. Ok, they organize good CPD courses, have wonderful newsletters and organize very useful networking events, but that’s it. They don’t defend translators/interpreters. In fact, many have corporate members and tend to favor more agencies than translators/interpreters.

Direct action is the best thing to do. In the UK legal interpreters formed an “action group” and are taking direct action i.e. boycotting some agencies, campaigning for the regulation of the profession, writing to MPs, etc. etc. It’s already given some results.

Direct action is the answer.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
German to English
+ ...
Irony lost on me, too, Apr 1, 2011

especially after that incredibly long "boycotting CAT tools" thread (where people were actually serious about it!)

 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz (X)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:15
English to Polish
+ ...
unions, please keep away Apr 1, 2011

Yep, I didn't get the irony either.

There is in fact a very obvious a way of dealing with the "are you interested in post-editing" problem. I think we all know what that solution is. I'll post edit anything, as long as I get my normal translation rate. Good luck trying to get someone else to do it cheaper and deliver quality. And if they do, well, there will always be suckers in the market.

[Edited at 2011-04-01 14:59 GMT]


 


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