Trade unions criticize BTI International

31.10.2012

Akava Special Branches and Translation Industry Professionals: Pseudo-entrepreneurship and circumvention of collective bargaining threaten the whole translation sector.

Trade unions of the translation sector strongly criticize BTI International, the agency MTV Media chose as an outsourcing partner.

The trade union Akava Special Branches (Akavan Erityisalat) and its member organisation Translation Industry Professionals (Käännösalan asiantuntijat, KAJ) both noted that the outsourcing of translators from MTV to an agency known to disregard fair working conditions is a clear signal of the price dumping that threatens the entire translation sector.

- A media company outsourcing its translators to an agency that operates on the principle of only offering work to translators who agree to a subservient subcontractor relationship is an on-going and concerning phenomenon known as pseudo-entrepreneurship. In a situation like this the agency has,  for all intents and purposes, a dominant market position, and it is not possible for the so-called “entrepreneurs” to negotiate for fees equivalent to even a subsistence income.

- Another characteristic of this phenomenon is that the translators have to hand over all immaterial rights for a single translation fee, while the agency is then able to extract continuous income from one translation, sometimes for years, by re-selling it for profit. The translator also usually has to deal         with unreasonable work schedules, uncertainty regarding employment and may even have to rent the translation tools from the agency.

- The companies that use translations produced by these agencies try to renounce their responsibilities by stating that translations are not part of their core business. An irresponsible company will procure its translations from the lowest bidder, disregarding any concerns about the working conditions and contracts of the translation provider. The situation is exacerbated by the undeniable fact that in this type of predatory bidding war, a vendor adhering to the wages specified in the collective agreement will be completely unable to compete, says Kari Eskola, a labour market lawyer with Akava Special Branches.

- This annihilation of the terms of employment will lead to degradation in the quality of the translations, which in turn will have negative impact on the reading and writing skills of the Finnish general public. Agencies banking on this pseudo-entrepreneurship do not care - they are not willing to offer reasonable terms that would reflect the high levels of education and creativity necessary to produce high-quality translations, stated the unions.