The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on its member unions to support a journalist, Richard Gizbert, who is fighting a legal battle against his former employer, ABC News, over the right to refuse dangerous assignments.
Former London-based ABC News journalist Gizbert has won a unanimous judgment from a British employment tribunal, which ruled he was unfairly dismissed by the United States network two years ago for refusing to go to Iraq, but the company is fighting the judgement and denying the journalist the right to a fair settlement.
The IFJ is joining the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Newspaper Guild-CWA, the US journalists’ union, and the Canadian journalists’ union TNG Canada/ CWA who are all supporting Gizbert.
“This case sets the precedent that journalists cannot be fired for refusing life-threatening assignments,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “We must support Mr. Gizbert’s fight to make sure that no other journalist is forced to choose between their job and their personal safety.”
ABC, which is owned by the US-based Walt Disney Company, is trying to reverse the judgment at appeal. ABC has indicated that if it fails to win at this stage, it will appeal once again, to the British Court of Appeal.
“I would dearly love to send a message to this bully of an employer that journalists everywhere are pulling together, to stand up and defend this precedent, because it’s important,” Gizbert said in a statement.
The IFJ and the NUJ and its North American affiliates are asking unions around the world to help Gizbert maintain his legal battle against the US media giant, which has the financial resources to fight this battle indefinitely.