PSA ensures MNSW Language Services remain in public hands - Public Service Association

PSA ensures MNSW Language Services remain in public hands

The Public Service Association (PSA) is the union for public sector Interpreters and Translators (I&Ts) working for Multicultural NSW and party to the CROWN EMPLOYEES (INTERPRETERS AND TRANSLATORS, MULTICULTURAL NSW) AWARD (“the award”) which sets out the conditions of employment for those employed on the MNSW panel.

PSA interpreter/ translator members are experienced and highly qualified professionals, whose status and livelihoods the PSA has fought to protect over many years.

When the Minister invited the PSA to engage in discussions with MNSW about changing the Interpreters and Translators award to be more competitive with private providers, the PSA reminded the Minister it is the government’s responsibility to provide these services and they should stay in public hands.  It is especially important in the criminal justice system of NSW Courts and Police, where MNSW interpreting and translating services, provide access to justice for a diverse NSW Community.     

NSW Courts threatened to outsource language services to a private provider, if changes were not made to the award.  This would have put an end to MNSW Language Services, the premium provider in Australia.  

MNSW filed an Application for a new award on 27 October 2020. The document MNSW provided to the Industrial Relations Commission was not by consent, was not in Crown form, contained lower pay rates for NAATI certification levels, extended ordinary hours to 7am- 7pm, removed 34.5% loading without replacing it with paying actual expenses, set a flat rate of loading on work outside non-standard hours, removed standard crown clauses, re-defined the ordinary work area from County Cumberland to Parramatta and was disconnected from Crown Salaries and Conditions of Employment awards.

The PSA fought against these changes every step of the way, as there was no guarantee that slashing the pay and conditions of Interpreters and Translators would deliver the outcomes the Government was claiming.

The Outcome of more than a year of PSA advocacy on behalf of members is as follows:  

 The Secretary of DCJ has given a written undertaking that NSW Courts will use MNSW Language Services for at least a further 3 years

 If court work is outsourced or privatised interpreter and translator pay and conditions will revert to the previous award

 The CEO of MNSW has given a written undertaking to commence formulating a procedure for “conversion” of long term casuals to permanency.

 The Industrial Relations Commission has made a new 3-year Award that –

o Maintains standard Crown clauses including Anti-Discrimination, Dispute Resolution, Professional Development, Employee Assistance and Union Consultation
o Remains connected to the Salaries Award 2019 and Conditions of Employment (COE) Award 2009
o Maintains County Cumberland as ordinary area of work (as per COE)
o Maintains 7.30am-6.00pm as Standard Hours (as per COE)
o Maintains Year 5 Common Salary Point for Certified Interpreters
o Pays 28% loading on standard hours
o Maintains loadings for non-standard hours – Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
o Pays employee travel costs between assignments
o Pays employee for cancellation within 24 hours unless same job type /duration/mode is offered during the same period – so as not to interfere with your other bookings
o Pays meal allowance for work during non-standard hours and during regional assignments
o Applies the COE provisions for Regional work providing for accommodation, travel and meals
o Allows rare and emerging language I&Ts to be assessed by MNSW where no NAATI testing is available – to determine appropriate pay point

Special Thank you to the Delegate Committee 

The input of our interpreter and translator members and delegates was vital throughout this process and supported the work of the PSA. Many of our delegates and several members provided statements for the case. Your communication, information and engagement has enabled the PSA to properly represent the interests and concerns of our interpreter/translator members.

What happens now? 

The PSA will continue to work with members and delegates to represent member interests and concerns to management. Your delegates will be able to join Industrial staff at the quarterly Joint Consultative Committee meetings with the MNSW Executive, a forum to discuss matters of mutual concern. The PSAA will progress discussions about best practice in bookings, workplace health and safety and the formulation of a conversion procedure at our next meeting in mid June 2021.

How you can support the work of the PSA and Delegates

This win is evidence of what a strong union can do and was the result of many hours of hard work by members, delegates and the PSA.

Now is the time for all interpreters and translators on the MNSW Panel to join the PSA, so we can keep fighting on the issues that affect our members.

Forward this email to your colleagues and encourage them to JOIN today so they can be part of the next big win.

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