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Anyone want to go on STRIKE?
Thread poster: Fei Ge
Sep 16

I have a B.A in Comparative Literature from a 4 year school, grew up in a bilingual house hold, spent time in China and the US, and have been working as a translator and proofreader for the past 7 years. While at first it seemed like a wonderful thing, I was making a little bit of money and getting plenty of assignments, self learning the industry, its procedures and regulations and whatnot. Got scammed a couple of times, like most people I know, but now things are ridiculously crazy competiti... See more
I have a B.A in Comparative Literature from a 4 year school, grew up in a bilingual house hold, spent time in China and the US, and have been working as a translator and proofreader for the past 7 years. While at first it seemed like a wonderful thing, I was making a little bit of money and getting plenty of assignments, self learning the industry, its procedures and regulations and whatnot. Got scammed a couple of times, like most people I know, but now things are ridiculously crazy competitive, with even lower payment rates, and longer payment terms, that are often delayed too.

It's this increasingly difficult and unfair situation that we translators have been put in that makes me want to STRIKE. If a bunch of people said no to these shitty conditions, and everyone stopped working for these cheating translation agency middle men who earn more than the translators, the people who do the actual work, then maybe conditions could change for the better for us translators.

What do you say?
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Colomba Grolleau
 
Wrong way of looking at it Sep 16

Specialise
Get accredited
Build a greater skillset
Become the professional that other professionals are looking for.

Interpreters, on the other hand, need all the support they can get but an interpreter strike would only affect those most in need - the patients in hospital, the accused in court, etc. I therefore don't think it would be ethical for interpreters to strike.

By joining together as a union and forcing the government to legislate rates in A
... See more
Specialise
Get accredited
Build a greater skillset
Become the professional that other professionals are looking for.

Interpreters, on the other hand, need all the support they can get but an interpreter strike would only affect those most in need - the patients in hospital, the accused in court, etc. I therefore don't think it would be ethical for interpreters to strike.

By joining together as a union and forcing the government to legislate rates in Australia, see what the translators and interpreters union has achieved:

On Monday 25th June the Victorian Government announced an increase in pay for interpreters.
Together with our members, we have made this possible. We stood up for better pay and working conditions for your profession. This is a first! Interpreters have faced declining pay, conditions, respect and recognition for many years, but this win represents a significant turnaround for a profession that deserves more. We have turned a corner, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t more to achieve. This is just the beginning.

http://apesma.informz.net/apesma/pages/TIA_VIC_30


Historic Moment
Translators and Interpreters Australia (TIA), the union and advocacy group promoting the rights and welfare of translators and interpreters, welcomed the move, saying that the new budget approved by parliament to improve the state’s language services is a big win for language professionals.

“This is a historic moment for translators and interpreters in Victoria, and hopefully, this budget will set a precedent for other states to follow,” it said in a news release. “This new investment will increase the capacity of the state’s interpreting industry and will help new migrants get access to education and training, find employment and understand important health care information, helping more Victorians contribute and belong.”

https://slator.com/industry-news/major-pay-increase-marks-big-win-for-interpreters-in-australian-state-of-victoria/
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Yolanda Broad
Max Jeremiah
 
No one held a gun to your head, right? Sep 17

Fei Ge wrote:

... increasingly difficult and unfair situation that we translators have been put... If a bunch of people said no to these shitty conditions...


No, "we translators" have not. You put yourself into that situation yourself by agreeing to those conditions. It's as simple as that.

This is a business like any other. No one owes you anything.


Zeineb Nalouti
Katalin Horváth McClure
Angie Garbarino
John Fossey
Richard Purdom
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Jorge Payan
 
This would be awesome Sep 17

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
Become the professional that other professionals are looking for.


But if my experience taught me one thing, it is that a heaping large chunk of professionals don't look for professionals. They just want cheap rates.
And while what Australians did is wonderful, it only concerns Australia. Unfortunately, clients from other countries will not have to comply.

@Fei Ge
A strike would be great, but for it to work, you would need every translators, globally, to join. What translation needs is an international set of rules, some sort of global union that would ensure that clients and agencies, anywhere, can't criminally underpay translators just because they can.

It would be quite fun to see how they react if translators went on a strike even if just for a week.


Yolanda Broad
 
We might be disappointed Sep 17

Jocelin Meunier wrote:


It would be quite fun to see how they react if translators went on a strike even if just for a week.


It might become quite scary to see that the world can still operate without professional translators. Things might not be ideal, but humans have an ingenuity that helps one transmit the meaning that one intends to through a number of different ways.

"2019, the year humanity realised that translators were no longer required - thanks to @Fei Ge's strike!" LOL


 
maybe we don't need translators then :) Sep 17

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
It might become quite scary to see that the world can still operate without professional translators. Things might not be ideal, but humans have an ingenuity that helps one transmit the meaning that one intends to through a number of different ways.

"2019, the year humanity realised that translators were no longer required - thanks to @Fei Ge's strike!" LOL


If that is true then I am in favour of eliminating professional translators right now. I don't want charge more money just because of some legal protection instead of providing value to readers.

But I suspect that is not true. People who are not translators but can translate usually are busy with other duties and charge more than translators. Others could learn to do it but then they would become professional translators by definition.


Olavo Nogueira
 
Can I be succinct? Sep 17

Fei Ge wrote:
If a bunch of people said no to these shitty conditions, ... then maybe conditions could change for the better for us translators.


First you have to get fellow-strikers to agree with you on what are the minimum conditions that you believe clients should offer. And I think you'll find that different translators have different ideas about what is acceptable and what is no longer acceptable.


Yolanda Broad
Kevin Fulton
Katalin Horváth McClure
Angie Garbarino
Daryo
Dan Lucas
 
Fei Ge
TOPIC STARTER
I didn't mean literally every single translator in the whole wide world is complaining! Sep 17

I guess I could've worded it better, but I don't mean every single translator in the whole wide world is complaining, just enough translators on this forum and elsewhere I see complaining so that it might be appropriate to do a strike of some sort. That being said, I really have no experience in labor unions and doing any or this, I just thought maybe someone else on here would.

The Misha wrote:

Fei Ge wrote:

... increasingly difficult and unfair situation that we translators have been put... If a bunch of people said no to these shitty conditions...


No, "we translators" have not. You put yourself into that situation yourself by agreeing to those conditions. It's as simple as that.

This is a business like any other. No one owes you anything.


 
@Samuel hit the nail on the head Sep 17

Samuel Murray wrote:

First you have to get fellow-strikers to agree with you on what are the minimum conditions that you believe clients should offer. And I think you'll find that different translators have different ideas about what is acceptable and what is no longer acceptable.


Yeah, this.^^^
@Fei Ge, see an illustration of this issue below.

Your rates in your profile:
Chinese to English - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per character / 20 - 25 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per word / 20 - 25 USD per hour

Community rates from here- https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates :
Chinese to English - Avg. rates: 0.08 - 0.11 USD per word / 26.87 - 36.85 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Avg. rates: 0.07 - 0.10 USD per word / 26.44 - 36.44 USD per hour




[Edited at 2019-09-17 14:39 GMT]


Jorge Payan
Vera Schoen
Dan Lucas
Andy Watkinson
neilmac
 
not fair Sep 17

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

First you have to get fellow-strikers to agree with you on what are the minimum conditions that you believe clients should offer. And I think you'll find that different translators have different ideas about what is acceptable and what is no longer acceptable.


Yeah, this.^^^
@Fei Ge, see an illustration of this issue below.

Your rates in your profile:
Chinese to English - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per character / 20 - 25 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per word / 20 - 25 USD per hour

Community rates from here- https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates :
Chinese to English - Avg. rates: 0.08 - 0.11 USD per word / 26.87 - 36.85 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Avg. rates: 0.07 - 0.10 USD per word / 26.44 - 36.44 USD per hour




[Edited at 2019-09-17 14:39 GMT]


Just try to find clients in China with 0.1 USD per character.
0.04 is a VERY good rate there.
And if you decide to give up or strike or whatsoever, you will be replaced at once.


neilmac
 
This is very true Sep 17

And if you decide to give up or strike or whatsoever, you will be replaced at once.


This made me remember a story like that. Some years ago (maybe ten actually), the French translators working with SDI Media were quite discontent with how little they were paid. So they talked among themselves and organized a "strike" and stopped working for SDI until they get redasonnable and pay honest rates.
The agency fired them all and replaced them with people who accepted to be paid even lower.

In a world where agencies and clients can and will act like that, I'm a bit surprised to see people say "Well it's your fault". Translators' rates have been plummeting for 20 years, and it certainly didn't come from translators...


Kevin Fulton
Elisa Martinez-Aznar
neilmac
Anna Giulia Musso
Colomba Grolleau
 
just my opinion Sep 17

Jocelin Meunier wrote:

And if you decide to give up or strike or whatsoever, you will be replaced at once.


In a world where agencies and clients can and will act like that, I'm a bit surprised to see people say "Well it's your fault". Translators' rates have been plummeting for 20 years, and it certainly didn't come from translators...


of course, you are 100% right
but sometimes, it's case sensitive.
for instance, do you know how many persons can read/write/talk French language in China ?
you would be amazed.
20 years ago, you would still see French tourist guides for Chinese tourists coming at Paris.
Now, all Chinese tourist operators ask the help of their own people.

Things have changed.


 
I see herds of albino unicorns sweeping across Dagenham Marshes Sep 17

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

First you have to get fellow-strikers to agree with you on what are the minimum conditions that you believe clients should offer. And I think you'll find that different translators have different ideas about what is acceptable and what is no longer acceptable.


Yeah, this.^^^
@Fei Ge, see an illustration of this issue below.

Your rates in your profile:
Chinese to English - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per character / 20 - 25 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Rates: 0.04 - 0.07 USD per word / 20 - 25 USD per hour

Community rates from here- https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates :
Chinese to English - Avg. rates: 0.08 - 0.11 USD per word / 26.87 - 36.85 USD per hour
English to Chinese - Avg. rates: 0.07 - 0.10 USD per word / 26.44 - 36.44 USD per hour




[Edited at 2019-09-17 14:39 GMT]


As usual, the 'community rates' are absurd, and about as realistic as Boris Johnson's brexit deal.
And no, I won't be going on strike. If what you're doing is worth anything, someone will pay you for it. If no one will pay you for it, time to get another job.

[Edited at 2019-09-17 17:55 GMT]


Dylan Jan Hartmann
The Misha
Jorge Payan
Laurent Mercky
neilmac
v.cresevich
 
Labour unions Sep 17

Fei Ge wrote:
I really have no experience in labor unions...


To have a labour union, you need labour. We are not labour -- we are the opposite of labour. We are businesses. But even businesses can "go on strike", you know. It's just... you can only go on strike when you have become invaluable.


Kevin Fulton
LIZ LI
 
You cannot outsmart the law of supply and demand Sep 17

When you are in a market with higher supply than demand, you cannot stop prices/rates going down. Neither strikes nor laws will achieve that. It has been tried often enough.

The only realistic thing you can do in order to get better rates is move to a market with less supply and/or more demand. If you are just the zillionth translator offering what everyone else offers too, you won't get anywhere. You have to offer something that few others do, in order to act in a market with a bet
... See more
When you are in a market with higher supply than demand, you cannot stop prices/rates going down. Neither strikes nor laws will achieve that. It has been tried often enough.

The only realistic thing you can do in order to get better rates is move to a market with less supply and/or more demand. If you are just the zillionth translator offering what everyone else offers too, you won't get anywhere. You have to offer something that few others do, in order to act in a market with a better supply/demand balance. My suggestion would be specialized, relevant knowledge. Of course there might be other things that might work too, but specialized, relevant knowledge will always be in demand. ("relevant" could be, for example, knowledge in industries with high trade volume between the countries of your language pair)
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Kevin Fulton
Jorge Payan
Dan Lucas
IanDhu
Katalin Horváth McClure
Sara Massons
neilmac
 
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