Home Office defers plans to cut interpreters’ pay
Today’s Guardian reports that the Home Office has postponed its plans to cut the pay of more than 2,000 interpreters from 1st January 2016. This comes in the wake of a threatened boycott from Home Office interpreters (posts passim), which could cause chaos in the running of the UK’s immigration system.
According to The Guardian, the Home Office has confirmed that any plans to cut pay will be deferred at least until February while negotiations with the interpreters take place. Considering that Home Office interpreters have not had a pay rise since 2002 (they get a basic £16/hr. on weekdays and slightly more at weekends. Ed.) and the Home Office’s desire to cut what is already fairly meagre pay do not bode well for those negotiations.
A meeting lasting more than two hours took place between interpreters and the Home Office on 21st December. At the meeting, Home Office civil servants warned the interpreters against speaking to the media in a blatant disregard of the interpreters’ rights under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998. A further meeting between the Home Office and interpreters is planned for the middle of January.
The Home Office stated as follows after the 21st December meeting: “Following our meeting with the interpreters on 21st December, we intend to defer implementation of this change at least until 1st February 2016 to allow us time to give proper considerations to the views and opinions expressed.”
Given the government’s arrogant refusal to listen to anyone besides its donors and beneficiaries, it looks like the next linguistic sacrifices on Whitehall’s altar of austerity will be Home Office interpreters, following on from the Ministry of Justice’s interpreters, the overwhelming majority of whom refused to work for the abysmal rates offered by Capita Translation & Interpreting (posts passim) and have been boycotting court and tribunal work for the last couple of years.