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Union appeals judgement in MTV redundancy case

The UJF Board decided 25 August that the Union would appeal the District Court judgement on the dismissal of a journalist by MTV Sisällöt.

The case concerns the redundancy a few years ago of a journalist who was working for MTV Sisällöt, the commercial broadcaster, apparently for production-related and financial reasons. But the work carried out by the journalist had not decreased and instead was offered to self-employed journalists. The journalist dismissed by MTV took the matter to court with the help of the UJF.

The court dealt with the case in terms of whether the residual work, following the dismissal of the plaintiff, was performed as outsourced work or work under an employment contract. If the latter, the termination of the journalist’s employment could be considered unwarranted.

The District Court stated that the subcontractors appeared in effect to be MTV employees. In their evidence as witnesses the journalists described themselves as self-employed or subcontractors.
The District Court took the view that MTV’s work involved subcontracted employees and those with employment agreements. In its summing up the court decided that the work in question was subcontracted, and therefore the Union lost the case. Because of the legal ambiguity in the matter both sides were ordered to bear their own costs.

But the UJF’s head of advocacy, Petri Savolainen, disagrees with the court’s approach.

“The issue concerns the job security of an employee who was dismissed. The transition to subcontracting is normally a production-related reason for dismissal. But in this case the job was filled by a one-man and one-woman business. In the media sector subcontracting typically means that the work is done on the subcontractor’s premises, using their own equipment and for a number of clients,” explains Savolainen.

“But in the case of the journalist who was dismissed, the job was done on MTV’s premises, using the company’s equipment and in working hours determined by the employer. The journalists were not wholly available to take other commissions. They were not in a position to freely arrange for a replacement even in the event of illness. These factors are apart from anything else indicative an employment contract.”