CNN rapped for forcing producer to work ni

By Caitlin Pike

An employment tribunal has revealed a culture of forced night shifts
at CNN’s London bureau with “no attempt made to mitigate the effects on
employees”.

Producer Elena Cosentino won her case for unfair dismissal when the
tribunal ruled that CNN was wrong to insist that she worked nights. It
also found that CNN’s redundancy procedure involving her was a “sham”.

Cosentino,
who was made redundant in April 2004 after six years at CNN, argued
that the death of her fiancé in a motorbike accident had left her with
serious medical problems that prevented her from working nights.

She is seeking £190,000 damages. The tribunal is expected to rule on her award in the next few weeks.

Afterwards she said she felt vindicated. “I am pleased to have won given the huge imbalance of resources between CNN and myself,” she added.

The
tribunal found that CNN had taken an “intransigent stance”. News
producers had to work nights and this “subordinated all other concerns,
including health concerns”.

A former colleague of Cosentino
testified that “extensive night work left people exhausted and
depressed” and that he had left the company because of the “erratic
nightshift pattern”.

The tribunal found that there were frequent
contradictions in CNN’s evidence and that the company “had often not
documented meetings which we would have expected an employer to have
documented”.

It also criticised Tony Maddox, former managing
editor for CNN’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operation, for his
treatment of Cosentino, noting that his attitude could be gleaned from
“trenchant terms” used in an email he sent to executive producer Rachel
Brown.

The email said: “Before I unzip the bodybag lemme check
something. With biz traveller back, giving us four feature shows in
production in London, should we consider whether now is the time to
lose her? U have handled this in an exemplary fashion so far, and if we
are going to shift our ground a little [I’m] happy that U do it as
display of power and flexibility rather than it coming from me. Your
call though, you want her gone and she is gone.”

A spokeswoman for CNN said: “We acknowledge the findings of the tribunal and will give them due consideration.”

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