TRANSLATORS and interpreters are owed more than $200,000 by state agencies for services done and they want their payments.
With days to go before Christmas, the workers said they do not have any money to celebrate the holiday or to buy presents for relatives. Saying they “dutifully” spent long hours assisting police and the judiciary with investigations, they complained that they are broke.
“When we asked for our money, they keep saying funds were not released. We are spinning top in mud here. We are working but not getting paid, yet we continue to work and work,” said one translator.
The translators and interpreters work for the Child Protection Unit, the Immigration Department, the Judiciary via the magistrates’ and high courts and police service.
Saying they serve as intermediaries between the non-English speaking people and the authorities, the workers said they spend many long hours on the job. Some of these non-English speakers include children, accused people, witnesses of crime and victims of crime.
“Sometimes in one day we work a 12-hour shift. We have to go to different courts and we have to pay our money to get to the different locations. It is hurting to know we already worked and cannot get pay. All we are asking for is our money,” said a translator.
Due to the economic situation in Venezuela, there has been an influx of people from the South American country. Regularly police are investigating reports which involve Venezuelans and investigators seek the help of translators/interpreters to communicate with the foreigners. “We are happy to work but we want our money. Someone in authority should investigate and rectify the problem because it is once in a blue moon we receive a few hundred dollars. Some of us are owed for work done from 2016 to now. That is unfair.”
Newsday contacted the judiciary’s corporate communication officer, Kieron Blackman, of the Court Protocol and Information Unit and he promised to find out about the payment process. He was unable to give any information regarding the issue.