Trinity Mirror has transferred all staff on the Racing Post from its sports division to a dormant company to encourage its sale, a move criticised by the NUJ for creating uncertainty about its final pension scheme.
The union also criticised the company this week for not consulting with staff over the move, as required by law.
- October 2, 2020
- September 21, 2020
- September 15, 2020
On 29 May, the paper’s staff moved from Mirror Group Newspapers Limited to Centurycomm Limited, a Trinity Mirror subsidiary company acquired in 1997, but inactive for years, in order to ‘facilitate an orderly handover”. The company has been trying to sell the title for months, but has so far failed to attract an offer.
NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick called the move ‘disgraceful’and said it was a smokescreen of the company’s intentions.
He said: ‘This subsidiary doesn’t appear to have any assets or any trading functions, but it now employs all the staff on the Racing Post. We suspect the reason for doing this is eventually the escape the obligations they have on the pension fund.
‘This is a complete smokescreen to disguise the nature of the sale and it offers no reassurances and no guarantees of their terms and conditions being covered by TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations 2006].”
Fitzpatrick also alleges that the company did not consult with staff as required by TUPE.
In an email sent to all staff on 29 May – the same day as the transfer – and passed on to Press Gazette – Trinity Mirror human resources officer Hayley O’Donnell said the company was ‘confident’of a sale between the end of June and September.
She told staff there would be ‘no changes made in respect of any of your terms and conditions of employment including your pension provisions, save that the name of your employing company will change to Centurycomm”.
She added that under TUPE regulations, staff would have the same pension scheme while working for Centurycomm, but said that after the paper was sold its new owners would ‘cease to participate’in the Trinity pension scheme.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: ‘The TUPE transfer was undertaken simply to ensure a smooth hand over of the sports division to any future owner by separating the Racing Post from the other titles. Terms and conditions for all employees remain unchanged, including existing pension entitlements, until the sale of the sports division.”