130 journalists working at the Racing Post are to get tax-free bonuses worth six and half weeks’ pay – a total of £700,000 – because they were not consulted properly when Trinity Mirror sold the title.
Irish private equity group FL Partners bought the Racing Post and associated titles from Trinity Mirror for £170m in October, last year.
The staff’s legal fight for compensation, carried out by the British Association of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists, began in June when they learned that Trinity Mirror had transferred contracts to a dormant subsidiary company called Centurycomm Ltd without consultation.
The move happened on 29 May, before a buyer had been found. At the time the NUJ said it feared it was aimed at avoiding staff pension fund liabilities.
The overwhelming majority of journalists at Racing Post are NUJ members.
The union’s national organiser Barry Fitzpatrick, said: “I am very pleased with the satisfactory outcome which has secured an excellent deal for our members.
“We hope that Trinity Mirror will show more respect for their obligations to inform and consult staff on matters as important as their future employment conditions including their pensions.”
Father of Chapel at the Racing Post, Robin Gibson, said: “I am very pleased with the outcome which was the result of a lot of hard work by union officials, members and other staff, and Thompsons Solicitors.
“I hope it demonstrates that it’s never wise to take at face value what the company presents to you as a fait accompli, and that it highlights the benefits of being a member of the NUJ.”
According to the BAJ, Trinity Mirror agreed to the payout on the steps of the Employment Tribunal at Stratford, East London today.
BAJ’s general secretary, Steve Turner, said “MGN’s behaviour deprived the union of the chance to make proper representations over pensions, early retirement and terms and conditions.
“I am glad we have won the day for the journalists in the BAJ bargaining unit.”
Under Trinity Mirror, the BAJ was the officially recognised union at the Racing Post because it represented a majority of journalists across the national Mirror titles, but it had a small minority of members on the Racing Post.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “Trinity Mirror have reached an agreement today with the NUJ and the BAJ and is in the process of reaching agreement with other claimants not represented at tribunal.
“The issue involved the transfer of staff to Centurycom – a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror – and its subsequent sale and the technical issue of the extent to which the company was obliged to consult as well as inform its employees, none of whom were affected financially.”
Including non-editorial staff, around 180 staff are expected to qualify for payouts.