A News of the World journalist writes:

I’ve spoken to four former News of the World journalists in the last week. To say they are not happy with the senior management of News International is an understatement. Here is a an email I received from one of them. Needless to say he wishes to remain anonymous for fear of ‘retribution’. I’m familiar with that feeling so I’ll respect his wishes. I’ve slightly amended the words in one sentence in order to avoid potential contempt of court/libel allegations.

“Dear Tom

I am a News of the World journalist and, in view of today’s revelations about payments to Andy Coulson, feel compelled by ever-increasing rage to draw your attention to the fact that, even while News International is under intense scrutiny for its illegal activities, the company is playing fast and loose with employment law to avoid paying fair severance to many, many innocent people; people like me who had no knowledge of hacking but who can wave goodbye to their careers because of it. In brief, News International is using ‘employment status’ to dodge paying everyone the four weeks contractual severance. For some this means losing almost half their entitlement and for others it means being cast adrift without a penny. These are people who played a major part in the production of the paper, people who held titles for years and worked exclusively for the News of the World. It is sickening that the people who are suffering most because of the behaviour of others are being treated so shabbily! Andy Coulson left with hundreds of thousands of pounds, a free car and private health care. The people who turned up to work hellish hours to produce his paper, in ignorance of how the content was gathered, get nothing. You have to ask, where’s the justice?”

No doubt the staff association at News International will be doing as good a job at representing their members as the NUJ would in these circumstances.

10 comments ↓

#1 David J Mudkips on 08.23.11 at 2:50 pm

More disgraceful behaviour from from the Murdoch Empire… And nobody’s surprised.

Can the journos who are being screwed over start a claim against News International for this? Maybe Harbottle and Lewis would be interested in taking the case…

#2 Andrew Hatton on 08.23.11 at 2:50 pm

That is tough.

If only folks would join a trades union, whoever their employer is, they would be in a stronger position if things go wrong.

Obviously it is better to be in a staff association, if one is not in a Union and we know unions work best when they have enough members to insist on recognition from an employer but far too many of us are too trusting of our employers and falsely confident in our own ability to negotiate fair deals for ourselves.

I was a 30 year public employee who had serious health problems partly consequential on my employment. I would probably be dead now if Napo my Trades Union had not stood by me over many months and eventually got a settlement that meant I could retire on a pension rather than face an employment tribunal.

For those in difficulty without a Union it must be worthwhile exploring one’s rights with a solicitor who specializes in employment law.

I won’t name the solicitors my Union used as I am not recruiting for them.

A lawyer maybe able to give advise, for a fee or possibly even represent a group of workers who have similar issues.

One could start from either the TUC website or from The Law Society, but whoever you are if you have an employer join a Union AND go to the meetings so the hot heads don’t take the union off in a direction you don’t want it to go.

My Trades Union was NOT affiliated to a political party because there were enough members who did not want that too happen, so it is not inevitable that by being a trades union member any of your subscription fee goes to a political party – even if a union is affiliated it is still better to belong for the individual representation, if things go wrong.

#3 Peppone on 08.23.11 at 2:51 pm

well you do need to read the small print of employment law and I am sure that your NI hacks and his other colleagues other of his ilk used to write unions are evil and read tape is strangling small businesses stories at a click of a finger.

Lucky eveyone at NI wasnt fired for cause.

#4 Jane on 08.23.11 at 2:54 pm

He was not the editor of the paper and therefore not entitled to the same Compensation Agreement which is as you know used by many companies and can be paid over a period of time. I know several people who have been subject to the same scheme and retained many perks rather than elect to have higher compensation. One elected to have severance paid over two years for tax purposes! Another friend had a confidentiality clause placed in his agreement. Severance is normal in many situations and I do not understand what the fuss is about? Do you think an employer has the right to ask in interview what the terms of redundancy, severance etc is relating to previous employment? The mind boggles!!!

I have every sympathy with your correspondent although am perturbed that he is suggesting that News International are failing to comply with employment law in terms of redundancy. I would suggest that he is wrong and is looking for a better redundancy deal. No company can afford to do this for so many employees who lost their job with the closure of the NofThe W.

#5 Iain on 08.23.11 at 3:03 pm

I’d love to feel more sympathetic but these people were producing a terrible rag that was in the business of ruining people’s lives. And belatedly they discover what many people could have told them years ago, that their employer is an appalling organisation that doesn’t care about their employees, except for a select few.

#6 Lee T on 08.23.11 at 4:59 pm

It sounds like people were using ‘alternative’ models of employment/service here – working as contractors paid by invoice, not employees paid by payroll. That’s usually done to save on tax, and can be beneficial to both parties in that regard.

Before I sympathise with any NOTW people who’ve lost out here, I’d want to know that they were operating that way for sound reason… and not just because it seemed like an easy way to pay less tax. If NOTW was forcing people to go down that route to circumnavigate proper employment protections then that’s one thing.. but if folk are just crying foul because their tax avoidance scheme turned against them.. well that’s quite another.

#7 Manc on Wire on 08.23.11 at 10:23 pm

A very revieling time for this imformation to be smothered – i mean come out. Its not made any main news programme

#8 A. McCormick on 10.20.11 at 12:25 am

Mr. Watson, can you tell me when the News Corp meeting is to begin? I understand that it will be at Fox Studios this Friday; my husband and I would like to be near the entrance with signs that say “Welcome, Tom Watson” if the time works out well.

#9 A. McCormick on 10.20.11 at 12:26 am

We are glad you’re going to the meeting, in short!

#10 Dr Peach on 11.28.11 at 12:06 pm

My heart bleeds….where were they all when workers rights were being stripped away by successive govts. Working for a [removed] right wing gutter paper.

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