Interpreters for the European Parliament have called off a partial strike, in place since June, after union representatives struck an interim deal with the institution on working conditions.
Trade unions representing the interpreters withdrew their strike notice “with immediate effect” in anticipation of further talks on the Parliament’s post-pandemic working methods, scheduled to start in November. The interim deal will remain in effect until the end of the year.
Interpreters walked off the (virtual) job in June in protest of problems that arose due to Members of European Parliament (MEPs) teleworking during the pandemic. With lawmakers calling into meetings from cars, restaurants, and other places with poor connections and sound quality, interpreters complained of deteriorating health conditions, saying they were suffering from tinnitus, insomnia, nausea, and vision issues, among other problems.
Since June, interpreters have refused to interpret for members who connect to meetings remotely, though they continue to work on in-person addresses.
Under the interim deal, hybrid meetings will now be fully interpreted—as long as all speakers have adequate image and sound quality. Lawmakers and European commissioners have also received professional-grade microphones to improve their audio. MEPs have also been issued guidelines for working remotely and warned that if they don’t adhere to them, they could be cut off from interpreting services.
A letter sent to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola by the EU trade unions representing interpreters stated the interim agreement “does not change the fact that good sound quality and cooperative speaker behavior are paramount,” adding that “should those preconditions fail to materialize, interpreters might be unable to interpret.”
A representative of one of the unions said that interpreters were “happy that we finally have provisional rules,” describing the interim arrangement as “a start.”
A European Parliament spokesperson said: “The interim agreement secured is a good compromise between the needs of operational continuity in the European Parliament and interpreters’ health concerns related to the changes in the working methods of the European Parliament.”
Read Full Article from Politico (10/18/22)
Author: Sheftalovich, Zoya
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