The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted authorisation to the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA) to implement collective bargaining arrangements for translator and interpreter members who operate as independent contractors.

APESMA is a not-for-profit, member based organisation that represents professionals from a range of disciplines including engineers, scientists, IT professionals, senior managers and executives. Membership to APESMA is voluntary.

The authorisation will allow APESMA to collectively negotiate the terms of engagement for translators and interpreters and to provide information and advice about rates of pay and other contract terms. Authorisation has been granted until June 2019.

The majority of translators and interpreters operating in Australia are engaged through agency arrangements rather than directly by end users, such as government departments and medical and legal institutions.

Therefore, individual translators and interpreters can find it difficult to enter into a negotiation or bargaining process over the terms and conditions for their services.

“The arrangement is likely to provide translators and interpreters with more effective contract negotiations and improved access to industry information, including rates of pay commensurate with their experience,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“The ACCC considers that the arrangements are likely to result in minimal public detriment. Members currently comprise a small proportion of the industry, participation is voluntary and does not involve a collective boycott.”

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.