BAJ wants £50 per person for Trinity legal fight

Journalists at the Racing Post have expressed concern about being asked to pay a donation of £50 per person to the British Association of Journalists before it begins a legal fight for compensation on their behalf.

The BAJ represents all journalists on Trinity Mirror’s national titles – but only has three members at the Racing Post, the vast majority of whose journalists are in rival union the NUJ.

Journalists believe they are entitled to compensation because Trinity Mirror transferred their contracts to holding company Centurycomm without consultation.

The Racing Post is one of a number of Trinity Mirror titles currently up for sale.

A letter sent to BAJ general secretary Steve Turner, signed by around 90 Racing Post journalists, said: ‘We understand that the BAJ, as the union recognised by the company, is the only body in a position to claim this compensation, by means of application to an Employment Tribunal. We urge you to go ahead and claim the compensation for all staff.

‘We understand tribunals view such behaviour by companies in a dim light and could be minded to award punitive compensation.”

In response, Turner said in a letter: ‘The BAJ intends to bring legal proceedings against MGN, but to do so will be expensive. BAJ will incur significant costs, for advice, representation and also administration. Out of more than 150 employees in the sports division, only three are members of the BAJ.

‘As all sports division journalists will benefit from the BAJ’s legal action, we ask each of you to give an individual undertaking that you will each pay £50 to the BAJ from whatever compensation is awarded to you by the tribunal.’

NUJ newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said the request for cash had met with a cool response from NUJ members at the paper.

He said: ‘If the case is as straightforward as we think it is, there shouldn’t be a cost issue. And we’ve given them the benefit of the NUJ’s legal advice, which we haven’t charged for.”

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