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NUJ wins cash for members sacked following Oldham Evening Chronicle closure

(from left) Chris Morley, NUJ senior organiser, Darren Robinson, former Chronicle chief photographer, Tony Miller, photographer, and Neil Todd, Thompsons’ solicitor, outside the Manchester Employment Tribunal  -  © private

22 February 2018

The NUJ has won a claim for members who lost their jobs when the Oldham Evening Chronicle, owned by Hirst, Kidd & Rennie, went bust in September last year with 49 people made redundant.

A hearing at Manchester Employment Tribunal resulted in a protective award judgment for the union’s members at the daily newspaper, founded in 1854. Judge Batten awarded 90 days’ pay to the staff.

The NUJ had submitted the claim on behalf of 10 members; they will now get payment from the government’s Redundancy Payments Office for eight weeks’ pay, collectively worth up to £39,000, depending on earnings. The remainder of the judgment will now form individual claims as unsecured creditors to KPMG, the liquidators of the business.

This could yield another five weeks’ pay, but would have to come from money raised by the sale of the company’s assets. KPMG has indicated there will be very little left once it has taken its fee of £240,000 for the administration and liquidation of the business.

The 160-year-old title was bought for just £8,000 by the local radio station Revolution 96.2.
The NUJ members were among 49 staff that lost their jobs. The protective award is for lack of consultation by the administrator KPMG, which dismissed all editorial staff immediately when it took over running of the business. The award, made under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, is subject to a weekly wage cap of £489 per week.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands senior organiser, said:

“The demise of the daily printed Oldham Evening Chronicle was a sad day in the illustrious history of Britain’s local press and the sudden crash was a bitter pill for staff to take. They had done everything asked of them to try to keep the Chronicle afloat – including taking substantial pay cuts in the years leading up to the collapse.

 “Today’s judgment is a small but valuable gesture for the trauma of having their livelihoods snatched away without any warning and then having to try to rebuild their lives as best they could in the aftermath. I’m pleased that the union, with its solicitor Thompsons, has been able to assist its members to secure this money. It shows how the union is there for its members as a constant source of support when ill fate strikes.”