NUJ to fight journalists'dismissal by Arabic daily

By Dominic Ponsford

A dozen Arab journalists are appealing via the NUJ against their dismissal by London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al Awsat .

The journalists – about a third of the international paper’s workforce – were dismissed last week after “restructuring”.

Most
are veterans, some with more than 20 years of experience at the
paper.The staff involved claim their employee handbook guarantees 20
weeks’ salary as a redundancy payment to anyone who has completed more
than six years’ service.

Instead, they say they have been offered the statutory minimum payment of £280 for every year of service.

Asharq Al Awsat is owned by Saudi Research and Marketing Group and based at Arab Press House in High Holborn.

The affected journalists are from Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Morocco.

One
said: “We feel sadness, sorrow and resentment about this – some of us
have served the company for more than 20 years and we are being treated
like this.”

The daily title has a circulation of about 200,000 and is distributed across the Arab world.

NUJ
organiser Mike Sherrington said: “For a lot of these people English is
not their first language, so employment opportunities elsewhere are
very slight.”

The NUJ plans to take the cases to an internal
appeal at the company. If that route fails, it may take the matter on
to the courts and/or employment tribunals.

Asharq Al Awsat management did not return phone calls from Press Gazette.

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