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Rotherham Advertiser targets union rep for redundancy

28 May 2015

The NUJ has condemned the decision of the Rotherham Advertiser to target the Father of Chapel (FoC)  for compulsory redundancy. The NUJ's FoC Phil Turner has worked for the company for more than 30 years and has been the FoC for most of his time working for the newspaper.

In March the company organised a redundancy selection process among the 14 editorial staff and this has resulted in the selection of Phil who is a reporter for the Advertiser. Phil was presented with a letter giving him notice of dismissal on Wednesday 27 May and his notice will run until August. The union is appealing this decision and the targeting of Phil is a deliberate attack on the NUJ and the wider trade union movement.

The NUJ is demanding the company withdraw the threat of redundancy immediately and the Rotherham Advertiser NUJ chapel has carried out a ballot and have a mandate for industrial action.

Chapel members voted unanimously to take strike action at a members' meeting yesterday and have organised a disruptive mandatory chapel meeting today at 11am.

The newspaper was owned for more than 100 years by the same family within the Garnett Dickinson Group but they sold the title in March this year to Nick Alexander, a former group Chief Executive.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"It couldn’t be clearer – to Phil, his colleagues, and to the rest of the NUJ – that a longstanding, effective and well-respected rep who has consistently stuck up for his chapel and their collective principles has been deliberately targeted through this redundancy exercise. NUJ members at the Rotherham Advertiser aren’t prepared to sit back and allow Phil to be picked off in this way, which is why they’re taking industrial action – to support and stand by their rep. It’s a dispute that will have resonance throughout the local community, where Phil and the work of the paper is well known, and throughout the broader union, so I hope the new owner takes stock and works to resolve this dispute before more damage is wrought."

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands organiser, said:

"The company has made a grave error in selecting Phil for dismissal in such a transparent attempt to reduce the effectiveness of the chapel at the Rotherham Advertiser. Even when required savings were found elsewhere, the new management of the company still insisted that a compulsory redundancy had to be made in editorial and that it just happened to be the FoC.
"Members are united in defence of both Phil as their representative and the chapel's place in continuing to be effective in representing their interests. I'm sure that there will be big support among the people of Rotherham and the wider labour movement against this dismissal of a highly respected rep. I am urging management to take a fresh look at their actions before it is too late."

The Rotherham Advertiser NUJ chapel said:

"Phil Turner, our FoC rep for nearly 30 years, has been sacked after the company was taken over and hit with redundancies. This is clearly an attack on the NUJ and trade unionism. We are calling for solidarity in our fight to defend jobs and quality journalism."

Tags: , newspapers, cuts, rotherham advertiser, union reps, redundancies, yorkshire, local news matters, local newspapers