NUJ takes legal advice over ITN and Five transfers

The NUJ has accused ITN and Five of breaching employment law as they prepare to transfer journalists from the Five News bulletin to Sky News, who will service the contract from next January.

It is understood that the NUJ, ITN and Five have all taken legal advice as to whether of not the journalists’ existing employment terms should be transferred over to Sky News when the news contract begins.

Five has reached a negotiated settlement with ITN over the transfer of the contract and the journalists, which does not involve carrying over any benefits to Sky News.

NUJ broadcast organiser Paul McLaughlin told Press Gazette: “In our view it’s a clear breach of the legislation which would afford people protection of their employment. We’re in a situation where Sky and Five will cherry pick who they wish.”

The question of continuity of service in relation to the journalists’ pension schemes has not been addressed in ongoing negotiations between the union, ITN and Five.

The union has also attacked Five for the manner in which management informed journalist that they will have to reapply for their jobs at Sky News.

Chris Shaw, Five’s senior programme controller, informed the 60 staff last Friday afternoon, before an advertisement for the jobs went out the following day in The Guardian.

McLaughlin said those that did not wish to work for Sky have not been offered the compensation they deserve. There is “no clear route” for those who wish to further their careers at ITN within the proposals laid out on Friday.

He also said that those who do wish to transfer over to Sky News would do so “with a clean slate”.

“The deal is, they have to give up all their employment rights. So if you’ve built up 10 years of service [with ITN] that counts for nothing. They can be dismissed without recourse to legislation for up to a year,” he said.

One senior source at ITN said Sky also planned to cut the number of reporters on the new service by two.

In a joint statement Five and ITN said they had agreed a proposal “to ensure smooth transition of the Five News contract” from ITN to Sky at the end of the year.

By Wale Azeez

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