Public Service Translators: Conditions from the Middle Ages, says the SPGQ

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QUÉBEC, April 14, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ) castigates the government for the way it treats translators in the public service, who are continually forced to do more while being offered less and less in return.

"Our members who are translators are maintained in a constant state of urgency. Being overburdened is all in a day's work, as is having to deal with added pressure from ministerial offices. The employer has been known to demand that our members translate a press release and have it ready to be online in all of 10 minutes. With that kind of retrograde treatment—all that's missing is a pyre and mutilation—how can these experts do their jobs properly and analyze the intent and the significance of the various texts they translate, do proper terminology research and faithfully transpose the meaning of the French text into English?" wonders Line Lamarre, President of the SPGQ.

Public service translators are predominantly female in a proportion of 80% and ageing: their numbers have dropped from 55 in 2010 to a meagre 45 in 2020. These women and men work mainly for Québec's National Assembly, the ministère du Travail, de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, the ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur, the Conseil exécutif, Retraite Québec and the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec.

"As never before, public service translators carry the burden of a denial of democracy, since it can sometimes be increasingly difficult for anglophones to access the basic public services they are entitled to receive in English under the Charter of the French Language. Our members who are translators have an in-depth knowledge of the source language, an impeccable command of the target language and the ability to communicate effectively, but their dwindling numbers and the employer's steadfast refusal to hire more resources means that a certain number of members of Québec's officially recognized English-language minority are deprived of the full benefits they are entitled to expect. It's unacceptable! The SPGQ is a proud defender of the French language, but our fellow citizens are entitled to adequate translation services," explains Ms. Lamarre.

The SPGQ condemns the lack of recognition by the employer, as translators are relegated to the very bottom rank in the government's pay structure. Certain aspects of the pay equity maintenance process are flawed, and corrections need to be made. The complaints filed by our members have yet to be addressed. The employer must respond, as the conditions imposed on these specialists is a disgrace. Underpaid and suffering a lack of recognition, they are replaced by subcontractors that they must train, as efforts to hire remain unsuccessful. Potential candidates prefer jobs in the private sector, with more generous compensation.

"Even the free-lancers trained by our members jump ship. The employer attempts to dissimulate its overuse of subcontractors by using multiple contracts and playing musical chairs with its subcontractors. As a result, our members are spending an inordinate amount of time training subcontractors. The overtime done by our members is costly to the State, and not just in cash. Working translators to exhaustion also comes at a cost and the great number of "related tasks" assigned to our members only serves to further deplete their energy. And yet these are professionals who are highly specialized in very specific areas of the government, including legislation, government regulations and decrees. They help the State carry out its mission to provide services to minority populations. The employer must recognize their expertise," concludes the president of the SPGQ.

About the SPGQ

The SPGQ is the most important union of professionals in Québec. Created in 1968, it represents nearly 30,000 specialists, of whom 1,175 are public servants, 5,220 work at Revenu Québec and 3,020 are found in health, education and state-owned enterprises.

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SOURCE Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ)


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