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Solidarity and determination force respect for AIIC-agreement

In November 2001, Montreal was the scene of a whole series of meetings, discussions, memos and negotiations between interpreters and members of UNEP and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in order to force respect for the provisions of the AIIC-UNS Agreement.

The problem was straightforward: the CBD Secretariat, on behalf of UNEP, had mandated a consultant interpreter to make firm verbal offers to colleagues to service a GPA/IEG meeting to be held in Montreal starting 26 November 2001. Interpretation services for the meeting were subsequently taken in hand by UNON, which refused to respect all the commitments made by the CBD Secretariat.

Twelve interpreters were affected by the affair to one degree or another: some had the entire verbal offer re-confirmed, some part, some not at all, and most confirmations began arriving only days before the meeting was scheduled to begin. With the active participation of the Montreal Professional Delegation, they decided to form a common front and to act quickly. After discussions at lower levels proved fruitless, letters were sent to the Executive Director of the CBD, as well as to the Executive Director of UNEP; interpreters also “unofficially” made it known that they might refuse to work at the GPA/IEG meeting if their colleagues were not compensated for lost days of work.

The point was made that verbal firm offers are tantamount to a signed contract and that if such offers are subsequently cancelled, then they fall under Article 9(c) of the Agreement. Article 9(c) provides for complete payment of fees if a contract is cancelled less than 30 days prior to the meeting in question while article 9(b) provides for payment of 50% of fees if a contract is cancelled more than 30 days prior to the meeting.

Interpreters decided to stand together and, backed by the efforts of their professional delegation, were able to ensure that any colleagues who had lost days of work would be fully compensated as stipulated in the Agreement.

Congratulations and thanks go out to everyone willing to defend their right to work according to negotiated and agreed conditions.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC-CBD Professional Delegation, Montreal. "Solidarity and determination force respect for AIIC-agreement". April 15, 2002. Accessed July 9, 2020. <>.

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AIIC-CBD Professional Delegation, Montreal

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