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Interpretation service picketed by trade unions, activists

Last update - Thursday, July 10, 2008, 00:00 By Metro Éireann

PROTESTS WERE held at the offices of Lionbridge interpretation services in Dun Laoghaire last Friday as part of an international week of solidarity with former employee Jakub Gawlikowski.

According to trade unions, the Polish Lionbridge employee was fired for encouraging fellow workers to join a union to protect their pay and conditions at the company’s Warsaw office. Lionbridge has been accused of driving down wages in the arena of translation and interpretation services. The picket was, according to one activist, a “good natured affair, despite the fact that workers had been warned not to speak to the ‘dangerous anarchists’ by Lionbridge management.”

The event was held to coincide with a court case taken by Gawlikowski against Lionbridge in the Polish Labour Court, where he is attempting to have his dismissal overturned. Lionbridge claims that Gawlikowski leaked “confidential company information” online and was not sacked for attempting to bring union membership to employees. Gawlikowski says that the article in question was not written by him, and that the information in it was not confidential but was common knowledge.

Lionbridge has asked the court for a postponement until August so they can prepare further evidence. Alan MacSimoin, spokesperson for the Workers’ Solidarity Movement, said: “Sacking an employee for being an active trade union organiser is illegal and will not be tolerated by anyone interested in defending the rights of workers. “Because of its illegal actions, Lionbridge will face a series of pickets and actions right across Europe and the US. These are intended to show solidarity with Jakub and all ordinary workers of Lionbridge, no matter where the company is based. We are calling for Jakub’s reinstatement.” In their statement, the picketers said: “We are proud to stand by our Polish fellow workers in their struggle against union busting. Whether we live in Walkinstown or Warsaw, we are all workers and should stick up for each other when employers put the boot in.” Protests were also held in Denmark, Spain, Poland and Interpretation service picketed by trade unions, activists For information on careers within the public sector log on to

Celebrating diversity in the workplace We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and encourage applications under all nine grounds of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004. Cuirfear fáilte roimh chomhfhreagras i nGaeilge Glao Áitiúil/Lo-Call: 1890 449 999 • Teil/Tel: + 353 1 858 7400 Facs/Fax: + 353 1 858 7499 • Facs/Fax: + 353 1 858 7574 Chapter House, 26-30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1. Áras na Caibidle, 26-30 Sráid na Mainistreach Uachtarach, Baile Átha Cliath 1 Slovakia. A Lionbridge spokesperson responded: “Lionbridge takes its responsibilities as an employer and corporate citizen very seriously. In this matter, as with all personnel matters, we are working in a respectful and confidential manner, consistent with local law requirements, to appropriately address the situation. Accordingly, we cannot comment further.”

The interpretation company has per-quarter revenue estimates of $124m for 2008. In its latest financial report, Rory Cowan, Lionbridge’s chief executive officer, said that despite the rapid decline of the US dollar, the company has increased operating income and he estimates that the improved operating income reflects “the benefits of our cost-reduction actions”. Lionbridge charges €46 per hour for its translation service in the Irish courts and pays its translators a fraction of this, depending on when the translator has been hired – figures that have already been highlighted by Mary Phelan of the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association.

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