Katz brands Jewish News redundancy a 'sham'

Former Jewish News photographer David Katz told an employment tribunal that publisher Totally Plc's redundancy process was a "sham".

In his claim for unfair dismissal, Katz claimed the company had failed to offer him a 30-day consultation period to discuss other employment options.

Katz alleged that at a meeting, chief executive Steve Burns told him: "If you ever repeat this in a court of law, I will call you a liar, but yes we are making you redundant."

Burns countered: "Contrary to what [Katz] says, I did not tell him there and then that we were making him redundant. I was careful not to do so as… I knew that it was important not to pre-empt any such decision."

Burns said that he went on to say he could offer Katz freelance work, explaining that he was trying to find him an alternative without prejudicing the redundancy process.

In an earlier hearing, Katz claimed the company informed him he was not at risk of being made redundant when five of his colleagues were informed their jobs were at risk.

Burns maintains that Katz was one of those marked as being at risk, but he said: "Given the regard we had for him and also the fact that we knew he had recently taken on a mortgage, I wished to avoid making him redundant if possible."

Katz said he was offered the joint role of photographer/picture editor, but that he told Burns he would only take on the position if the practice of downloading images illegally from the internet for use in the paper was stopped, a practice Burns denied any prior knowledge of.

Katz said he also believed that acting as an employee representative for a colleague who was being made redundant also contributed to the company's final decision. Managing director Dan Assor claimed Katz was made redundant because the hybrid role was not financially viable. A further three redundancies have been made at the Jewish News since the dismissal of Katz.

Katz is claiming £36,285 in compensation for loss of earnings and future earnings. A ruling is expected to be issued by the tribunal next month.

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