Rotherham Advertiser FoC reinstated
10 June 2015
A 24-hour strike in protest at the redundancy of Phil Turner, the NUJ FoC at the Rotherham Advertiser, has been called off after management rescinded its decision on appeal and agreed to sign a new house agreement with the union.
Members of the Rotherham Advertiser NUJ chapel voted to cancel the action.
The company announced in March it wanted to make one post redundant among 12 of the 15 editorial staff following the takeover by Regional Media Ltd of the Advertiser’s owner, Garnett Dickinson Publishing. Phil was selected for the single editorial redundancy, sparking a widespread campaign for his reinstatement.
A rally and a march were held in Rotherham town centre on Saturday, 8 June. More than 250 supporters took part and messages of support for Phil flooded in from fellow NUJ members and trade unionists from sister unions and around the world.
An email campaign called on Regional Media chairman Nick Alexander to change his decision. Sarah Champion, the town's MP; Louise Haigh, Phil Turner's local MP and Linda McAvan, MEP Yorkshire and the Humber, all called for his reinstatement.
As part of the settlement to end the dispute, the company agreed to sign a new chapel house agreement, detailing working practices for its journalists and setting out its relations with the NUJ.
Phil Turner said:
"I am truly grateful for all the support and solidarity that has been shown to both me and the chapel. It has been a difficult time but this fortified me and helped us come to a proper conclusion. I am sure that all this support was crucial in bringing about this outcome."
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser, said:
"Common sense has broken out and I am pleased that the dismissal of Phil has been properly overturned with no new selection for compulsory redundancy now taking place among journalists.
"The chapel had always opposed the job loss, well before it was known that Phil was the intended target, but once it was clear he was being forced out, a good deal of anxiety about the company’s intentions to the union was generated.
"I'm glad that the company has had the good sense to think again about this whole issue and put its relations with the NUJ once again on a firm and positive footing. I welcome the pragmatic approach displayed by the company in this regard.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to the huge groundswell of solidarity for Phil and the NUJ during this dispute. It really did make a difference.
"There were calls in some quarters to boycott the Advertiser because of its actions against Phil. I wish to make it absolutely clear that this was never advocated by Phil, the chapel or the NUJ and we urge local people to now get behind the paper to help it and its journalists to a successful future."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"I am delighted that management has come to this decision. The huge groundswell of support for Phil from the local community and wider trade union movement is a testament to the concern that people had at a union rep being seemingly singled out. It is also a testament to the loyalty readers have for their local journalists and their local newspaper.
"Now that we have agreed to sign a new house agreement with management, I hope that relations between Nick Alexander, the union and staff will be constructive. We all want the same end; a bright future for the Rotherham Advertiser."