'Tribune' workers win rights cases

 

Seven former Sunday Tribune workers have had their employment status recognised after they took cases to a Rights Commissioner.

The decision clears the way for them to apply for redundancy payments and other entitlements from the State Insolvency Fund.

The National Union of Journalists said that because the newspaper had regarded the seven as “freelance” or as “contributors” rather than staff, they had been advised they would not be entitled to apply for such redundancy payments.

The newspaper went into receivership in February.

The NUJ challenged the employment status of the group and a Rights Commissioner has upheld the view of the union that the workers had full entitlements, comparable to those of their colleagues.

Irish secretary of the union Séamus Dooley said the adjudication meant the receiver would now be required to add the seven workers to those seeking payment under the fund.

“The ruling vindicates the NUJ view that these people were employees working under the control and direction of the Sunday Tribune editorial management,” Mr Dooley said.

“It will be delayed justice because the waiting list is so long but it will hopefully ensure justice for the workers. I have no indication that the recommendation will be appealed and we hope to work with the receiver to ensure the process is made as simple as possible for the workers involved.”

Former employees are still awaiting payment of their statutory redundancy entitlement due to a backlog of such claims on the State Insolvency Fund.

The NUJ renewed its calls to Independent News and Media (INM) – the Tribune’s parent company – to make ex gratia payments to all Sunday Tribune employees.

NUJ vice president Barry McCall noted the receiver, Jim Luby, had recently settled a case against the Irish Mail on Sunday over a front page it published after the Tribune’s demise. The sum involved was about €150,000.

Mr McCall said the settlement meant INM would not have to fund all of the costs of receivership.

“In these circumstances there is no justification for INM, as the controlling shareholder, not making ex gratia payments to staff. It should not be left to the tax payer to make redundancy payments,” he said.

Mr McCall paid tribute to the Tribune’s NUJ members and to the union’s assistant organiser Ian McGuinness who coordinated the submissions to the Rights Commissioner.