Cankarjeva ulica 12 - 2250 Ptuj - Slovenia
I hope the following will be helpful in OLAF’s future dealings with the Republic of Slovenia and that this short report does not, in the cases referred to herein, further reduce clarity which is already in short supply in Slovenia and its language.
As a Slovenia-domiciled native user of English with a wide interdisciplinary comprehension, and accustomed to all sorts of technical jargon and local grammatical construction problems, I was hired by Ljubljana lawyer and court-certified translator Ms Sarah Cooper to proofread documents in, among others, OLAF’s TEŠ6 and Vuser cases.
The work was supposedly urgent. I indicated I was not registered as a business and that she would have to take control of the Slovenian legal situation, which I assumed as a top Slovenian lawyer she would be easily able to do.
In an early email she indicated she would be my "paymaster". This could have either meant me being her employee, or I could work under an avtorjeva pogodba (author's contract, a form of employment contract in Slovenia). Our discussion about the options, however, led nowhere, as I was made to feel like a troublemaker for asking - which of course I am.
As I was, and remain, in serious financial trouble in Slovenia, I went on with the work, night and day, at the high rate of up to 80pp/day, to a number of extremely testing deadlines. I mention this not because I mind working nights, but as a factual description of the work conditions under Ms Cooper.
As Ms Cooper was too busy with a heavy schedule of translating for these EU cases, particularly TEŠ6, to attend to our arrangements, I awaited a calmer period during which the legalities could be ironed out.
Meanwhile Ms Cooper professed herself very pleased with the results, continuing to assure me ongoing work would be available, and I was quite enthusiastic about this.
When, later, I pressed her on the nature of my employment contract Ms Cooper explained, vis-a-vis the employee vs author's contract, that it was not worth her while doing either of these things.
Her reasoning was that it was financially better for both of us to continue in an unofficial work relationship.
Income in this form represented the promise of short-term cure mixed with long-term vulnerability.
As it was, I had no choice but to continue, while I continued to mention the avtorjeva pogodba to Ms Cooper as what seemed to me the best way out of a rather uncomfortable and unsatisfactory situation.
Ms Cooper seems to see no irony in employment on the black market to perfect her not-very-English documents in support of Slovenia's Commission Against Corruption (KPK) and the EU's anti-corruption wing OLAF.
The final decisions on edits were always left to Ms Cooper and I bear no responsibility for, nor have I seen, the final results. This may be regarded as the distinction between proofreading and editorial functions.
Nevertheless, from the amount of help being offered Ms Cooper with English in general terms, from the large amount of querying and suggested solutions arising from the reads, and Ms Cooper's evident lack of erudition in such areas as mining, I felt that in my diligence at this level the work I was doing is generally understood more as editing, or legal/technical editing, in addition to the basic tasks of a proofreader.
Where not defined by any contract, these distinctions exist only in the abstract. In any case I aim in my results towards a single standard: rightness. The distance of travel to rightness - the amount of work - arises from nowhere else but the quality of the raw material.
Rates for editing of course range from four to ten times the rate for work described as proofreading. In this respect I believe I represented a bargain to Ms Cooper in her work for you on behalf of Civilisation.
The Uprava Enota on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior periodically inspects proof of alien residents' ability to survive, although in my experience this is the only time Slovenia ever takes any interest in such matters.
If the black (or real) market is so everyday that even work on behalf of the government itself is involved, then one ought to be able to declare income from it to the Slovenian government for such purposes, without fear of accusation, particularly where black-market work on behalf of arms the Slovenian government such as the KPK is involved.
I never received any money from Ms Cooper. After paying a couple of bills totaling 1832.81 for me, she rushed me through another 820 euros' worth of work, which total I volunteered to lower to 750 after receiving some 30 minutes of useful legal advice. Sarah then became all confused about the number of pages, and how to count words in Word.
She claimed that the count couldn't be right because she would be paying me more than she had charged for the translation. This, if true, would be her problem. I was supposed to receive EUR4,00 per page. As the deadline for payment passed I responded to her many successive concerns, arguments, and muddles with fresh word counts and screenshots - only to be stonewalled.
Her confusion extended into months during which she has continued with her legal business, and it seems she is still busy, although she is probably several proofreaders further down the line by now.
This is a snapshot of operations at the pinnacle of Ljubljana's legal translation system. I have done my share of the honest work, transforming Ms Cooper's computer-generated comedy English into credible text, and raising questions where that was not possible. You can see the difference between before and after in the enclosed zip file. Ms Cooper has reaped 100% of the rewards.
I have been robbed by dint of her own lack of arrangement. Finally she has skedaddled in a clattering confusion, like a cat which has been surprised in a dustbin.
While I fully support market transparency, and any pro-environmental intervention on whatever grounds, I resent that OLAF's cases in these multi-milion euro issues can proceed thanks to my understanding of English and the Slovenians' communication difficulties.
The information in these dossiers is capable of comprehension thanks to the theft of my intellectual output.
Is the worker supposed to feel proud of his output, or how is he supposed to act? Ashamed and secretive? Is he supposed to feel - as I do - as though he is being set up? Let me add, I am totally sympathetic to Ms Cooper's reasons for wishing to cut through Slovenia's hardly self-believing bureaucracy.
However, an Audi-class forcing people into black market activity, particularly immigrants, does have a rather invidious effect on their status, and their rights are diminished. For instance, yesterday I suffered a minor stroke: the hospital neurologist, discovering that I have no health insurance, seemed rather bemused.
Ms Cooper said she would pay monthly. For the sake of comparison, she has offices in Ljubljana, long-term government translation contracts and, it appears, private and public legal work.
I am a penniless poet in a chickentown of many cousins, and have no work offers or money coming in at all. I cannot afford to wait for amounts such as this, which is a month's minimum wage or three months' welfare down here.
Quietly obsessed with maximum exploitation of the few foreign residents truly competent in a language people understand, the Ptujčani are bent on denying us legal work opportunities. They expect to milk us, then drive us out.
Those who cannot pay in the end will have their homes, if they own them, sold off to vultures in government auctions. In this way, third-rate professionals will eventually own everything in Slovenia.
Except for the editing I have had no involvement with any of the parties to the cases involved.
Here's a list of all the work for which Ms Cooper used me, with the months of delivery. Where influenced by my interjections, the meanings contained in these documents are partially stolen.
I wish I could say I have learned an important lesson from this, but that would not be true as the only rule seems to be that if you don’t accept your lowly status as a black worker and do it the Yugo way, you’ll end up starving and homeless. By indicating my refusal to participate in my own marginalization, this report itself will further reduce my employability in the Slovenosphere: tongues will wag.
What some might label as corruption or economic deviance is normal everyday life in Slovenia. There might not necessarily be anything wrong with that, provided things keep on tumbling along.
Do Slovenia’s penalties for "black work" apply to lawyers? Do they apply to government agencies? Or will this all be trumped by xenophobia under some legal disguise? At the risk of some sacrifice, we are about to find out.
Julian Bohan 16 November 2012
Yachting 20pp 17
Vuser 53pp 43
Tax 17pp 13.5
90pp = 360
Part 00 T EN 4pp
Part 01 T EN 25pp
Part 02 T EN 21pp
Part 03 T EN 5pp
Mines Act 180pp + 45 weekend 145
waste decree (without the Slovenian bit) 68pp
366 pp = 1464
splosni program 12pp
pravilnik disasters 8pp
notification of concentration (with form text subtracted) 39pp
0237-001 tunnels 9pp
zakon o odpravi posledic naravnih nesrec PART 03 T EN (red bits only, Sarah says 25pp)
uredba o metodologiji za ocenjevanje škode PART 02 T EN (without tables) 54pp
Gorenja vas broadband 17pp
EU Pilot project, procurement Act 6pp
Odlocba procurement 19pp
Municipality response part 3 broadband 27pp
Legal opinion part 4 broadband 22pp