The parties to the audio-visual (AV) translator agencies’ collective agreement have given their approval to the settlement negotiated on 19 April. This collective agreement is historic: for the first time in Finland, solo self-employed people’s rates have been agreed in a collective agreement.
Agreement on minimum rates was made possible by the European Commission’s guidelines from September 2022. They stated that solo self-employed people could, in certain situations, engage in collective bargaining without breaching European competition law. Competition law is an area of EU regulation with which member states must comply.The guidelines apply to solo self-employed people who are in a situation comparable to employees, who provide services exclusively or predominantly to one company, and who are in a weak negotiating position, such as with regard to economically stronger companies.
The agreement on solo self-employed people’s rates is the first of its kind in Finland and is an example for other sectors.
“We’ve made history in Finnish labour relations! For the first time, solo self-employed people’s minimum rates have been collectively agreed in line with the EU guidelines. I’d like to thank the Finnish AV translation agencies who were party to the agreement. I hope we can see the same thing too in other sectors,” Petri Savolainen, Advocacy Director at the Union of Journalists in Finland, says.
“Even though we reached this settlement quickly, we’ve been discussing this matter for years. We tried to solve this issue via labour dispute resolution in 2019, but the national conciliator of the time could not resolve the dispute without the law being amended. Now, after the guidelines issued by the commission, there is no longer any obstacle to negotiations and agreement,” Helena Lamponen, a director at the Akava Special Branches trade union, says.
“This agreement restores AV translators’ honour, as the level of rates for solo self-employed people has been and continues to be the biggest grievance in our sector. This comes down to appreciation for AV translators’ work. Even though the share of translation in the production costs is small, the translations play a key role in the viewing experience. As a sector, we have to continue working to ensure that this is understood more widely, and the settlement now reached is a significant start,” says Janne Kauppila, CEO of translation agency Saga Vero Oy.
Around 400 AV translators work in the AV translation sector, most of whom are self-employed.
Pay settlement in line with general trend During the validity of the collective agreement, salaries will rise by a total of six per cent. On 1 June 2023, minimum salaries and individual salaries will be raised by a 3.5% general pay rise, in addition to which full-time employees will receive a one-off payment of €520. Part-time employees will receive an equivalent one-off payment on a pro rata basis. In the second year of the collective agreement, a general pay rise will increase salaries by two per cent, in addition to which employers will contribute a 0.5% rise.
The agreement includes clauses on self-employed AV translators’ minimum rates. In addition, self employed translators will receive an additional payment of 30–50%, as an AV translation agency does not contribute to self-employed translators’ pensions or make other employer contributions.
The rate increases are incremental, but the goal of the contractual parties in the next negotiation round is to reach a common collective agreement level for all translation work.
Other improvements to working conditions agreed
A recommendation on family leave was also included in the agreement. The unions which are party to the agreement recommended 32 days of paid leave for each parent, as well as 40 days’ paid pregnancy leave for the birthing parent.
An additional fee is to be paid when a translator translates from a language of Finland to a foreign language. An additional fee will be paid when translating into a Saami language, as the translator may have to create new terminology in the process.
The parties to the collective agreement for AV translation agencies are, on the employee side, the Union of Journalists in Finland and the Akava Special Branches trade union, as well as its member union, Language Experts. On the employer side, the parties are Saga Vera Oy, Pre-Text Oy, Movision Ky and the Rosmer International cooperative.
Petri Savolainen, Advocacy Director, Union of Journalists in Finland, tel. 050 534 2485
Helena Lamponen, Director, Akava Special Branches, tel. 040 631 7660
Translation: Ian Mac Eochagáin.