NUBSLI boycott: Sheffield’s BSL Interpreters’ fees being cut by a third.

31 October 2016
NUBSLI boycott: Sheffield’s BSL Interpreters’ fees being cut by a third. 
Sheffield’s Deaf community is at risk of losing the much needed access and support from its local British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters. The various health, social care and community appointments that Deaf people attend on a daily basis could grind to a halt as the local BSL interpreters are forced to boycott the agency responsible for booking them – LanguageLine Solutions (LLS).
To become fully qualified and registered professionals, BSL interpreters undertake an average of eight years training. From 1 November 2016, LLS will reduce the minimum fee paid to interpreters by a third.  The National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) are supporting their members’ action to boycott in Sheffield. 
One Sheffield interpreter told us: “I’m self-employed and work on a freelance basis, so my income is never guaranteed. I don’t get sick pay, or holiday pay, or paid training. That all comes out of my own income, but I accept all of this because the job I get to do day in, day out gives me such joy.
Most of my work is medical interpreting, about 1/3 actually. This work comes to me via agencies, and the agencies are trying to break me. They want me to do the same amount of work for 1/3 less pay, just like that. No rhyme or reason, just because they decided, and there is very little I can do”.
During the financial year 2015-16,the Trust could have saved approximately £18,000 on BSL interpreter bookings at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, based on the average cost of a health booking when booked with the interpreter directly. 
LLS have stated that due to re-tendering they have been forced to reduce fees to retain their contract. This reduction is at a direct cost to the end-supplier of the service (the BSL interpreters), and threatens to have a severely detrimental effect on the Deaf community who rely on these professionals. 
We have already seen interpreters leaving the profession, and our annual survey for the past two years confirms that more interpreters are reconsidering the long term sustainability of the profession.
The current commissioning procedures allow only for consultation with suppliers, i.e. the agencies or ‘middle-men’. This means that the process is profit focused and not based on client needs or quality of service. With both service users and service providers being sidelined in the current system, the commoditisation of the profession is set to continue. NUBSLI is seeking to rectify this by lobbying for a seat at the table and inclusion in future discussions. 
You can help by signing and sharing our petition calling on LanguageLine Solutions to reverse these cuts: https://www.change.org/p/vanessa-eke-ask-languageline-to-reverse-cuts 
Sign up to our Thunderclap: http://thndr.me/ikmjH8
Please like NUBSLI on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NUBSLI) for updates on our work and follow us on twitter @nubsli. This campaign is likely to become national as cuts to other areas of the country are currently being announced.  

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