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February 23, 2018

NUJ wins payout for staff who lost jobs when Oldham Evening Chronicle folded

By Freddy Mayhew

The National Union of Journalists has won redundancy pay for ten of its members who lost their jobs when the Oldham Evening Chronicle went into administration last year.

The staff will now receive eight weeks’ pay, worth £39,000 collectively, from the Redundancy Payments Office following a successful claim at Manchester Employment Tribunal.

The NUJ has described the judgement as a “small but valuable gesture” for the staff who were among 49 redundancies made when the 160-year-old daily newspaper closed in August last year.

Individual claims are still being pursued, which could result in another five weeks’ pay for staff, but will have to come from money raised by the sale of the company’s assets.

But the union has said there will be little left after KPMG has taken its £240,000 fee for handling the administration after former Chronicle owners Hirst, Kidd and Rennie folded.

The title was bought for £8,000 by local radio station Revolution 96.2 and is now publishing as Oldham Chronicle Online.

The protective award to the ten union members is for lack of consultation by KPMG, which dismissed all editorial staff immediately when it took over running of the business.

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The award, made under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, is subject to a weekly wage cap of £489 per week.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands senior organiser, said: “The demise of the daily printed Oldham Evening Chronicle was a sad day in the illustrious history of Britain’s local press and the sudden crash was a bitter pill for staff to take.

“They had done everything asked of them to try to keep the Chronicle afloat – including taking substantial pay cuts in the years leading up to the collapse.

“Today’s judgment is a small but valuable gesture for the trauma of having their livelihoods snatched away without any warning and then having to try to rebuild their lives as best they could in the aftermath.

“I’m pleased that the union, with its solicitor Thompsons, has been able to assist its members to secure this money. It shows how the union is there for its members as a constant source of support when ill fate strikes.”

Picture: NUJ

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