Joint report from the EU sector delegations - February 2014
Updates from the Negotiating delegation and the Professional delegations at the European Commission and Parliament.
Since the Negotiating Delegation's (ND) last report in April 2013, we have had two meetings (Oct. 2013 and February 2014) with the Institutions’ interpreting services.
This report starts with the matters addressed there, none of which were resolved at the meeting last October, and continues with reports from the Professional Delegations at the EC and EP. Last October the Luxembourg sub-sector decided to disband its Professional Delegation, and elected Verena Gruenbeek as its representative on the EP professional delegation. This has been endorsed by AIIC’s Council.
I. Negotiating Delegation
1. AIIC’s EU sector mailing list: reach and profile updates
Following correspondence with the Data Protection Officers of both the EC and EP, it has been agreed that DG SCIC, as manager of the joint list of ACI, will send a mail-shot to all ACI on the joint list, with a link to AIIC’s subscription management page, so that individuals can subscribe and manage their profile. Details of the link will also be flagged in the administration’s info kit for new ACI, and on the AIIC delegations’ pages on SCICNet and Epiweb. Work on this is underway.
2. Mandatory sickness and accident insurance
Work is under way on arrangements to provide cover after the expiry date of the current policy, and ensure there is no gap in cover. The administration will provide information shortly on its websites. Your ND has been active in following developments, has been consulted by the administration, and has provided input.
Those who have taken complementary cover with the current insurer and have queries about its renewal are advised to get in touch with their usual contact. You are also reminded that renewal and submission of the form showing the number of contract days in the previous year is a matter for the individual. Depending on the number of days, remember that your premium may come down.
3. Automated Payment Request
You may have already seen that the date when this automated system (scanning and uploading payment requests and supporting documents) was to become mandatory, with the paper-based system eliminated, has been deferred until further notice. This was due to questions raised by the ND, regarding the archiving period of paper-based documents uploaded, the legal status of such documents, what constitutes the original once uploading has occurred, and software incompatibilities. The Institutions are doing further work to iron out the wrinkles, and will get back to us.
4. EP political agreement with the EESC and CoR
At its most recent meeting with the Institutions on 11 February, the ND asked about the recently announced political agreement between the EP and the European Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions, and the provision that the EP would now become the standard provider of interpreting services to these Committees. We asked for information on the implications of this switch from SCIC to the EP as the standard provider. It emerged that this provision had come as a surprise to both SCIC and DG INTE of the EP. The implications are currently being explored and may take some time to have effects in practice.
5. Sub-standard working conditions in EU-hired venues
Because of two recent events at Tour & Taxis and BOZAR, the ND asked what the procedure is in the event that the interpreters assigned deem the working conditions impossible, and in particular whether an ACI can withdraw from a contract. The administration replied that the procedure is the same for staff and ACI interpreters. Despite the administration’s best efforts, a team may find conditions unacceptable or unsafe on arrival at the place of assignment. The team leader should contact the Planning and/or Programming units, so that a decision can be made. If the event is a weekend one, the duty officer can be contacted. The administration pointed out that following the two recent events referred to, the Director-General of SCIC had said that SCIC would not provide the interpreters for this venue in future, and that DG INTE had refused a request for interpreters at a further event in BOZAR.
6. Sign language interpreters
At the request of sign language interpreter colleagues, your ND raised the issue of sign language interpreter accreditation by the Institutions. An informal meeting was organized, at which the ND was accompanied by two colleagues from AIIC’s sign language interpreting network. The administration said that it could not justify having an accreditation system in place for non-EU languages which account for such a low percentage of its total recruitment. A discussion on various aspects of sign language interpreting was held, including the work being done in AIIC. As a by-product of the informal meeting, two sets of guidelines were written by the sign language colleagues and your ND. One set is for sound engineers, and one is for mixed teams of spoken and sign language interpreters. They have been posted on AIIC’s website, and have been provided to the Institutions’ interpreting services. Check them out on AIIC’s website.
7. Classification of non-EU language interpreters
The ND drew the administration’s attention to comments by colleagues on the different treatment of EU and non-EU languages regarding the number of days of documented experience required for the beginners and experienced interpreter categories in the Agreement. The administration replied by referring to the annex to the Agreement signed on 30 juin 2001. The administration also pointed out the need to keep documented evidence of previous experience, as there have been cases where candidates for competitive examinations for staff interpreter positions were rejected because they could not provide evidence that they met the experience eligibility criterion.
II. Professional Delegation, European Commission
Last July you gave your Professional Delegation a strong mandate to seek talks with the administration about adjustments to the Quick calendar (last-minute) recruitment system. The Delegation organized a survey of colleagues, and presented the results to the Administration, in support of its case about the widespread dissatisfaction with the system. It restated the reasons for its long-standing objections to the Quick system.
The Delegation does not question the need for last-minute recruitment, but has legal and other objections to how it is currently done, making it unworthy of an organization like the EC. At a further meeting, the delegation proposed changes to the system, involving one further step in the current system, and the addition of a text or email alert, which it felt would make the whole thing more acceptable. The Administration agreed to consider these suggestions. At a third meeting on 18.2.2014, the Administration said the suggestions were unacceptable as they removed the certainty they enjoy under the current system that an ACI was hired and could be assigned. The delegation is now actively considering how to take the matter forward. Watch this space.
III. Professional Delegation, European Parliament
Renegotiation of Agreement on working conditions
Members of the Professional delegation at the EP are representing ACI colleagues in the interpreters’ delegation in this renegotiation, alongside their staff interpreter counterparts. The renegotiation was requested by the EP administration. The Professional Delegation has reported on developments to date and will provide regular updates.
For those not familiar with the EU sector, it is worth pointing out that this is a renegotiation of the working conditions for staff and ACI interpreters on EP assignments, relating to matters such as the number of sessions per day or week, rules regarding certain types of assignment, missions and so on. This is NOT a renegotiation of the Agreement with AIIC on financial terms and conditions. The thrust of the administration’s intentions in requesting renegotiation will no doubt become clearer as the negotiations continue.
Recommended citation format:AIIC. "Joint report from the EU sector delegations - February 2014". aiic.net February 24, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2019. <http://aiic.net/p/6716>.
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