Having had a letter of my own banned from publication in the Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s (ITI) in-house journal, The Bulletin, I offered the authors of a letter submitted last year the opportunity to publish it on my blog so it may be freely available. The introduction and summarised update are made up of contributions over an extended period from several of the 4/2/2015 letter's signatories, including my colleague Michael Loughridge, who collated and edited them; his personal view expressed in the final paragraph reflects a consensus among many of the signatories.
“Some readers may be aware of the motion that received unanimous support at the 2014 AGM, requesting that the ITI Board introduce a category for retired members. This followed the Board's proposal that retired members could opt for 'Supporter' status if they no longer wished to pay for MITI membership. It was generally felt that this proposal was insulting to people who had earned their professional 'stripes' and who had, in many cases, offered service to the Institute and to its members.
The listed signatories to the 4.2.2015 letter reproduced immediately below tried to bring the dissatisfaction felt over the Retired category to the attention of the membership as a whole by sending the letter to the ITI Bulletin. Subsequently, several of them received letters from the management explaining that their letter would not appear, as it was felt not to be suitable copy for the ITI's official journal.
4 February 2015
In a letter to the ITIB (Jul/Aug 2014), surprise was expressed that the ITI Board had abolished the 'Retired' category for members who are no longer actively engaged in translation or interpreting work or whose income falls below a certain threshold, and this without informing the members, not least those most likely to be immediately affected. It transpired that anyone seeking the reduced life membership or retired membership category would be invited to convert to Supporter status.
At the 2014 General Meeting (London, 22 November 2014), a motion proposed by Bill Chilcott received overwhelming support from those present, as a result of which the Board was required to consider the re-instatement of Bylaw 13. In an article in ITIB Jan/Feb 2015, p5 entitled ‘Your voices heard’, it was reported that the Board planned to consult ‘those best placed to advise…’.
There is not much time a) for consultation; b) for the circulation of options; c) for retired members to decide whether to stay on in a new Retired category or to resign their membership.
As a reminder, MITIs currently pay £222, Supporters pay £92. From the GM debate and correspondence between members of retirement age, it has become clear that current FITI/MITIs would not be content with relegation to ‘Supporter’ status.
By way of contrast, the Institution of Civil Engineers offers retired membership at £61.50; retired members are entitled to retain the letters after their name (once qualified/always qualified principle?) and there is a committee of retired members. Other professional bodies also offer a retired category (eg RIBA, ATL, BPS), suggesting that these bodies see the value of retaining older, retired members. The CIoL offers a concessionary rate for any member over 65 who has retired and been a member for at least 15 years.
Not a few well-established, older ITI members are considering resigning from ITI; this would be far worse for the Institute’s finances than the unlikely prospect of their opting to pay £92 to become Supporters. And, given ITI’s demographic, it is rather likely that many more members in their 60s or 70s may soon leave; this would have a serious impact on the Institute’s annual income.
But perhaps a more important consideration is that ITI would also be losing the loyalty of a large body of members and the knowledge, expertise, experience, advice and guidance that people who have carved out a career as self-employed professionals over some 30 years can offer not only to the Institute itself but also to newer, younger members at the start of their careers and to whom they might be willing to act as mentors. Experienced members can also be called upon to sit on committees, act as ambassadors, and give talks to schools and universities.
As stated in the earlier letter, we remain convinced that retired members should have their own dedicated category, that it should be publicised so that people are aware of its existence and of the benefits. The fee could be aligned with one of the other categories; as a minimum it should cover the real cost of retaining a member, ie 6 issues of ITI Bulletin, plus administrative costs.
Failure to respond positively could result in the disenchantment of a large body of older, members with a long-standing history of membership of and support for ITI and in their leaving ITI altogether; this could have a dramatic effect on ITI's finances.
We note, also, that the same General Meeting just failed to approve two further motions, one on an easy-to-use system on the website for gathering support for a member's motion and one requiring the Board to inform the membership of changes to Bylaws. We hope that the Board will soon be reporting on how it proposes to react to the expressed views of a significant body of the membership.
[29 signatories including:] Dagmar Berger-Brown MCIL MITI MIFL PGCE; Regina Buechner-Brown MA MITI; Rosemary Carter MITI; Bill Chilcott FITI; Emma Collins BA ITI Career Affiliate; Natalia Czarkowska MITI MCIL TEPIS; Herbert Eppel CEng CEnv MITI BDÜ; Gilla Evans BA MTA MITI; Margaret Ann Fryer BA(Hons)London MITI; Anna George MITI; Judith Hayward MA(Hons) FITI MTA; John Kinory MITI; Alison Layland MITI; Dr J Michael Loughridge MITI; Dr Margaret Marks, Solicitor (non-practising) MITI BDÜ; Pamela Mayorcas DipModLangs MScInfSc FITI; Nicola Pacult MA DipTrans MITI; Janine Roberts BA MCIL MITI; Dr Brigitte Scott MITI; Philip Slotkin MA(Cantab) MITI.
APRIL 2016 RETROSPECT:
The letter above was sent and denied publication in February 2015, during twelve months in which members tried to find out how the Board intended to follow up the 2014 motion. At the 2015 AGM a new 'Retired' category was proposed, but without any details as to the terms and conditions to be applied. Further requests for information on the detail of the new category met with silence until this spring. A note was circulated on 9 March 2016, when the current year's subscriptions were falling due, announcing an annual subscription set by the Board equivalent to no more than 50% of the full MITI rate, with the stipulation that Retired members may do no revenue-generating work.
Several members have decided to resign from ITI, dissatisfied with the Board’s decision to retain the right to demand up to 50% (about £112) of the full subscription while granting Retired members zero rights to undertake remunerated work under the FITI/MITI (Retd.) label. We believe others will be resigning in the next year or two. Some have applied to / been admitted by CIoL.
The Board had it in its power - and discretion - to retain the loyalty and support of some of the most well-established members of the profession by offering a retired rate commensurate with that prevailing in many other professional associations (eg c. £60-70). Sadly, it has chosen otherwise.”
Dr Michael Loughridge, MCIL