Expo 2015 arrives in Milan, Italy in late 2015, another fabulous opportunity for Italy to show off its very best for an international audience!
So why do we already think it’s going to be a flop?
In part because the organizers of Expo 2015 are about to award translation contracts to bottom-feeding agencies in several cities in Europe, including (for Italian to English) to a notorious Italian agency known for its rock-bottom rates, shameful working conditions, indifferent treatment of translators, and leisurely (let’s just say it that way) payment practices.
The agency, which is now madly fishing for translators from its “team,” is offering 4 to 7 cents per word with the expectation that translators will deliver between 50 and 100 cartelle (a page of 1375 characters, according to the terms of the call for tenders) in time frames that range from 2-3 days.
First, the 50 cartelle/2-3 days requirement is imposed upon the winning contractor, not the individual translator. In other words, an agency might well agree to deliver 50 cartelle in 3 days, knowing that it can divide the work among a group of translators. It’s an iffy practice, but it’s quite common. It’s also an enormous hassle: a team has to be assembled for each separate translation request and someone then has to compile all the translations and edit them for consistency. Here, the agency has completely twisted the rules of the competition by imposing this condition on translators rather than handle the responsibility in-house as it should. Money saved!
Second, the base prices established in the call for tenders are: €35-45/cartella (1375 keystrokes) for standard delivery times and €48-60 for urgent work. Agencies are offering, instead, between €9.40-16.40/cartella with no differential for urgency (though at least one of the agencies in question has a reputation for calculating cartelle at 1500 characters without spaces rather than 1375 with).
That’s quite a tidy profit! You bust your southern bits and the agency earns a 200-300% markup!
Evidently, no one has learned a single thing from the Italia.it / Trust Traduzioni / Italian Ministry of Tourism scandals of exactly four years ago (https://nopeanuts.wordpress.com/resistance/ministero_di_turismo).
No qualified, experienced, self-respecting native-English-speaking translator will work under these conditions or for that rate of pay, so the translations will largely be carried out by what amount to scabs: non-native translators working in sweatshop conditions for market-snuffing rates.
To our Italian colleagues in particular: La parola d’ordine è solidarietà. Respingete le “offerte di lavoro” vergognose per Expo 2015! Dite alle agenzie perché le loro richieste sono infami! Se pretendete un futuro migliore per la professione, bisogna resistere insieme. No alla concorrenza sleale. No alla pressione al ribasso.
The theme of the 2015 Expo is “nutrire il pianeta” – feed the planet. Apparently translators who’ve starved to death are going to be the fertilizer.
We name names:
- Translated.net (www.translated.net; Dena Hayes, Director of Business Development: email@example.com) is offering Expo 2015 translators €0.04/-€0.07/word (€9.40-€16.45/cartella) for various language combinations.
Elena Mazza (firstname.lastname@example.org) is offering €0.04;
Debbie Verschueren (email@example.com) is offering €0.07 or, in a different email,
- The Milan-based Asap S.r.l. (Daniela Pedrazzani – firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com) says its hands are tied; Asap isn’t allowed to pay more than the €0.07/word they’re offering from Italian to English because “these are the terms dictated by Expo 2015.” In other words, a bald-faced lie.