Four audiovisual translation agencies sign an agreement on subtitling for MTV Oy


Collective bargaining between employee organizations and audiovisual translation agencies has resulted in an agreement concerning conditions of translation work for the broadcasting company MTV Oy in Finland.

Translators were represented in the negotiations by the Union of Journalists in Finland and Akava Special Branches. The agreement was approved by four translation agencies: Pre-Text, Rosmer International, SDI Media and Stellar Text.

One of the negotiating companies, Broadcast Text International, together with its affiliate BTI International, refrained from approving the negotiation result. Thus the industrial actions imposed by the unions against BTI in November remain in place.

The negotiated agreement determines minimum conditions of employment for translation work done for MTV Oy. The agreement is based on the existing audiovisual translation agencies' collective agreement, but with additional provisions for freelance translators' minimum pay rates as well as production volume requirements and sick leave pay in current, continuous employment contracts.

Events preceding the recent negotiations include the outsourcing of MTV Oy's translation work to BTI International last autumn, which led to the resignation of 101 translators. MTV Oy has since commissioned some of the necessary translation services from other providers.

The contract brings on a reduction of 40 per cent in a part of freelancers' pay rates, although in some job types the rates will slightly increase. The production volume requirements of monthly salaried employees are also raised.

"Anything better than this was not achievable. While employees in other industries are offered a zero increase in wages, audiovisual translators are presented with a big decrease. But because of the dual labour markets in this industry, to some translators this new agreement means a doubling of the rates they have previously received," says Petri Savolainen, director at the Union of Journalists in Finland.

Concurrently, the parties have agreed to continue negotiations concerning possible changes to the actual audiovisual translation agencies' collective agreement.

"A collective agreement is the only way to bring fair and just working conditions into this global industry. It is totally unsustainable that the Finnish labour legislation does not even guarantee an equivalent of a living wage for work done in Finland," says Kari Eskola, labour market lawyer at Akava Special Branches.

"A generally binding collective agreement would define the minimum conditions for audiovisual translation work for different TV channels as well as other clients of these translation agencies. Establishing common minimum terms and conditions, at long last, is to the common benefit of the whole sector," states Savolainen.