Who would work for an agency to be paid only £20 for one hour's attendance for an hour's job in London which would involve paying about £10 from your own pocket for the tube ticket and spending 2-3 hours unpaid for return travel on top of it? This means that you will have to spend 3-4 hours to do one hour job and get only £10 in return (before income tax and NI payments) after travel costs?
When you are told that the earnings would be so little, would you also voluntarily spend £100 from your pocket to pay for an assessment set by the same agency to join the list of their slaves? They said that this was compulsory for anyone qualified or unqualified! I don't think any reasonable person would pay that much to take such silly tests when they already spent hundreds of pounds to take other exams and training which allowed them to join the profession before then.
So, isn't it better for us to sit at home and do other jobs than investing our time, energy and money to help courts when they are desparate if we know that we will get exploited by the agency in return for such poor rates?
Believe me, I used to be very keen on working in public sector by helping courts, police and public agencies at short notice, but I can't let them exploit us by allowing such agencies to profit from our slavery.
As a result of our stance, the agency is so desparate to induce us to accept the unacceptable terms they put in their contract agreement that they are even giving away £250 to interpreters who could persuade others to join! I wonder where that money is coming from? Probably from the taxpayers' pocket!
Following our stance on this issue, they also decided to add only £5 extra for the first hours' work, which you can understand is not sufficient to attract us to spend 1-2 hours commuting in busy London tubes and buses and wasting about £10 from our pocket for the travel card to get to a London court without knowing how long the work will last - probably only for an hour, hence the earnings would be only £15 after the costs for wasting 3-4 hours of our time.
In the mean time, when we accept such jobs, as we often get other work requiring us to attend police stations, for example, at short notice, we will have to turn down such better paid work to continue commuting to the court without any payment for travel. This means that by taking jobs from ALS, we will also take the risk of loosing other opportunities i.e. better paid interpreting jobs, which would pay for our travel time, travel costs and almost twice as much per hour's work! This is called "opportunity cost" in Economics and any educated businessman (not known whether Gavin Wheeldon is included in this category?) should know this concept before setting rates for their employees or contractors.
In brief, as an experienced interpreter, based on my calculations of the capital costs (cost of travel, exam, time wasted for attendance) involved and the opportunity costs (e.g. loss of other better paid jobs) that I will suffer by working for courts through the ALS, I cannot afford to work for ALS. This is because the losses I will suffer will be far greater than gains that I will make by working for them!
They should know that interpreting is not a menial job and not everyone can do it. It requires concentration, memory, listening in one language and at the same time interpreting in the other language simultaneously in a court environment, knowledge of legal proceedings etc. It also involves taking the risks such as not getting any work for weeks and at the same time being available for work any time of the day and night, i.e. changing plans instantly at short notice to adjust to work requests, no guaranteed payment and no guarantee of even getting the payment on time from such companies (this may mean that we will have to keep sending reminders to get what we deserve to be paid. We often have to wait for months to get the payments for our work and in the mean time keep paying the interest on our loans until we get our payments from the agencies).
Courts should think twice before letting such agencies get involved in the justice process. I get so worried about the consequences of this contract that I thought it would be appropriate to call the MoJ as the Ministry of Injustice!