Court interpreters go on strike for more pay, some trials will be hit

A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman
A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman

Court interpreters are taking legal action in support of more pay, and that means some court cases and police interrogations cannot go ahead, broadcaster NOS reported on Wednesday.

Some 535 people are members of the registered interpreters society Orde van Registertolken en -vertalers, which is campaigning for an increase in the basic pay rate of €43.89 per hour.

‘This is simply not enough,’ said the society’s chairman Fedde Dijkstra, who points out that if if a translator is needed for five minutes, this is all they are paid for. ‘I earn more from travel expenses than from interpreting,’ he said. ‘It is more worthwhile for me to travel from Friesland to Limburg to translate.’

In January, the justice ministry opened the official legal interpreters’ register to people with lower qualifications because of the shortage of qualified people.

But the shortage, says Dijkstra, is down to the poor pay.

In addition, using interpreters without proper qualifications is both devaluing the profession and leading to hold ups in the legal system, he said. ‘Everyone has the right to a fair trial and part of that involves having a good interpreter.’

MPs are due to vote on a motion on October 26 which calls for interpreters’ fees to be index linked, so they rise in line with inflation.

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