Finnish audiovisual translators sent a petition to television broadcasters

27.1.2013

The following petition, signed by 300 audiovisual translators, has been sent to Finnish television broadcasters.

ANNOUNCEMENT TO TELEVISION BROADCASTERS

A united front of Finnish audiovisual translators demands a collective bargaining agreement for the industry.

The audiovisual translation industry has been in turmoil since last autumn when MTV Media outsourced its translators to BTI International Oy, a subsidiary of Broadcast Text International Oy (BTI), effective from 1 October 2012. With this transaction, 114 freelance translators formerly employed by MTV Media were transferred to the new company. Of these, 98 resigned by the end of the month because of weakening terms of employment and lack of trust regarding their new employer, and even more translators have resigned since then. During this time, an unprecedented number of audiovisual translators formed a battlefront as freelance translators from BTI, SDI Media and other translation agencies also came together to discuss some of the industry's worst problems and their possible solutions.

Together with their representatives from the Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF) and Translation Industry Professionals (KAJ), the translators approached BTI in order to negotiate fair working conditions for both employees and freelance translators. However, their views remained so far apart that further negotiations were deemed pointless. As a result, the unions issued an overtime ban and an application boycott on Broadcast Text International Oy. The subsidiary BTI International Oy is also under an application boycott. Since then the unions have met with the representative of another major translation company, SDI Media, with which the negotiations are continuing as of January.

This translators' front of previously unseen proportions is now seeking a collective bargaining agreement for the entire audiovisual translation industry. There are an estimated 350 audiovisual translators in Finland. At the moment the collective agreement known as the "Yhtyneet" agreement encompasses only the freelance translators working for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yleisradio). Pre-Text Oy is the only translation agency to have signed the existing collective agreement. The rest of the companies are operating without restraint and are more or less dictating the terms to the translators, a majority of whom have been forced into entrepreneurship.

The united front of translators has already caused the translation agencies difficulties in finding enough professional translators to work for their clients. Most of BTI's freelance translators (about 50) refuse to accept any new assignments until the situation has meaningfully improved. A similar decision has been taken by a large group of Finnish audiovisual translators who have been working for other translation agencies or who have temporarily sought other employment or chosen temporary unemployment. The translators of Yleisradio have also declared their support.

In Finland the domestic television broadcasters are the most significant clients for the translation agencies. The translators appeal to the broadcasters that when choosing suppliers of their translations they would consider firms that treat their employees fairly, operate ethically and are committed to abide by the minimum terms and conditions of employment.

The undersigned 300 audiovisual translators have set as their goal a collective bargaining agreement for the translation industry. We are, if necessary, prepared to refuse work until this goal has been attained.

This notification has been sent to the representatives of Yleisradio, MTV Media, Nelonen Media, Fox, TV5 and Kutonen.