When an agency tells you to drop your fees what do you do?
Did you start your bid so low anyway because you devalued yourself and along with it the whole interpreting profession?
Did the agency to whom you gave a quote tell you they got someone for a lot less than that last week? Did they say they had a limited budget?
Worst still, did you really believe them?
Agencies are businesses. Many of whom do not care about deaf people or the interpreting profession. Many of them have been telling interpreters anything they can to get you to accept that job. ‘oh it’ll be easy’, ‘there will be lots of breaks’, ‘I’ll send prep’. Do these sound familiar?
Over the last year or so, it seems this has been extended to fees. So why believe them? Some budgets are less, I accept that. There are other jobs flying around with a stated limit on what the agency will pay. In many cases these particular assignments are from a sub-contract. The person paying the bill is not paying less but there are now two middle men and both want to squeeze you, the actual service provider, for profit.
So let me now ask you these questions:
Do you still want there to be an interpreting profession in five years time? No, let’s make that two.
Did you spend money, years gaining your registration status, blood, sweat and tears? Did you forget to factor that in?
Did you forget CPD? The time spent developing yourself, the cost and time needed to attend courses, events, buy books, keep up with Deaf and interpreting community news? Did you forget to factor that into your annual expenses?
Did you forget you needed to earn enough to pay for your interpreter registration, travel, phone, insurance, Internet, website, business cards, car insurance and motoring expenses, accountant, holiday and sick pay, professional association membership? Maybe you’re not a member of one… Because you have failed to get it. Or maybe no-one told you.
You’re supposed to be a part of a professional community of sign language interpreters.
Let me tell you in black and white exactly how it is.
You are an interpreter. If it wasn’t for you, the agency that demands such a reduction in fees, would not exist.
We are a profession that needs protection. We do not have this officially by way of a royal charter or otherwise so we MUST protect ourselves.
If you do not behave in a business-like manner, befitting of someone who is a specialist and well-trained then you do not deserve to be a part of a profession that you are colluding to destroy.
If you do not know how to be that professional please do take time to go back to the start of this post and reread. Talk to an interpreter who has been qualified for at least seven years. Join a professional association. One with proper meetings and a good support network. And please if you do not yet have one, grow a back bone. I mean not to be insulting but believe me, in this financial climate I tell you for your own protection. And to protect us all.