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Solidarity with ​Phil Turner

4 June 2015

Messages of solidarity and support have been flooding in for Phil Turner, the Father of Chapel (FoC) at the Rotherham Advertiser, for compulsory redundancy. 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.

Send your own messages of solidarity and support, images and video to campaigns@nuj.org.uk . You can also Like the Reinstate Phil Turner at the Rotherham Advertiser #fightforphil community page on Facebook and Tweet your support using the #fightforphil hashtag.

Support from NUJ members

Dave Toomer, Manchester and Salford Branch:

Anyone who has been victimised at work will have had the backing of Phil Turner – he's that kind of guy.
Like many trades unionists I was victimised at work and singled out for redundancy when I was FOC at the Bolton Evening News. It was part of Newsquest’s attempt to stop the fight for trade union recognition.
One of the first people to offer support and solidarity to me and my chapel was Phil Turner. He has been a rock not only at his own chapel at the Rotherham Advertiser, leading successful battles on pay and conditions, but in every struggle for workers’ rights and justice.
That is why management are targeting Phil. It is vital that we repay the support he has provided. There is one thing bosses have never understood - solidarity. Phil and his chapel will undoubtedly get the support they deserve - for an outstanding trade unionist and fighting chapel determined to win.

Rachel Broady, Vice Chair, Manchester and Salford Branch:

Solidarity with journalists at Rotherham Advertiser - standing by the FoC as management target him is the right and fair thing to do. Journalism and journalists need to be defended.

Tom Wall, NUJ FoC CIEH chapel:

Dear South Yorkshire NUJ
I’m shocked to hear that Phil Turner has been sacked. He sent our small chapel messages of support when we took strike action last year over years of real terms pay cuts.It made us realise that we were not alone and we eventually won.I hope you can successfully fight off this disgraceful attack on trade unions, jobs and quality journalism.

David Thomson, Bolton News-Bury Times FoC.

As a NUJ life member, I am appalled by the decision of your management to select Phil Turner for compulsory redundancy.
I have emailed my protest to Mr Alexander and asked him to rethink his decision.
Over and above his NUJ duties, Phil has worked at the paper for more than 30 years. Does loyalty and long service count for anything nowdays when an employee who has given so much of his life to the paper can be cruelly cast aside in such a disgusting fashion?
Congratulations on the stance your chapel is to take in support of Phil. I can assure you all that you have the full backing of my chapel and every other NUJ member naionwide. I wish you success in your fight to retain your FoC. All the best.

Colm Ward, chairman, NUJ Irish South West branch

I was appalled to read about your treatment at the hands of management at the Rotherham Advertiser.
For a journalist with your experience (or any journalist, for that matter) to be treated in such a manner is absolutely unacceptable and I commend your courage in taking such a brave stance.
Please know that you have the full support of myself and my colleagues in the South West of Ireland and if there's anything we can do to help, please let us know.
I wish you the best in your campaign for reinstatement.

Barry McLoughlin, NW Lancs Branch, NUJ Life Member

Best of luck for the strike, and for the campaign against the totally unjust targeting of Phil Turner. As a veteran of the 1979/80 strike, can I suggest that when you walk out you don’t leave any copy lying around on anyone’s computer, as in 1979 our employers raided everyone’s desks in search of filler to get the paper out  – though that was in hot metal days, of course. I don’t know whether it’s possible these days.

Guy Smallman, joint branch secretary of the London Photographers branch:

Those who know Phil will be aware that he is one of those dedicated journalists who will always go the extra mile to get to the story. In 2005 I joined him when he went the extra 4,500 miles. All the way to occupied Kashmir, with a delegation from Sheffield & Rotherham, to report the devastating effect that the South Asia earthquake had on families in the north of England. I remember being truly impressed by his professionalism in the face of such harrowing scenes.

Since then myself and other members of our NUJ branch have worked with Phil closer to home and always found him to be an exemplary writer. Reporting his locality with a passion for important stories and forensic attention to detail.

We have no doubt that this is a blatant case of victimisation of an activist whom has led his chapel to win and retain numerous agreements setting the benchmark for how to defend pay and conditions in local media. Our branch applauds the unanimous decision by Phil's colleagues to strike in his support. Last Tuesday our branch committee decided unanimously to actively support your action. Please find enclosed a cheque for £100.00 for your strike fund.

Best wishes to you all. Keep fighting till you win!

Lewis Arnold, FoC at ncMedia in Newcastle

Dear Rotherham Chapel,
Sorry to hear about the decision concerning your Foc but glad to hear you are sticking together in protest, I've mailed the execs concerned as follows, good luck with your action.

Pete Johnson (ex Solihull News, Lincolnshire Echo and Shropshire Star)

As a retired journalist and long-time FOC, I know that people will only vote to go on strike if they have a very good reason to do so. I wish you all the best in your campaign. It's blindingly obvious that Phil has been targeted because he is an effective and inspirational union leader. He is too good a journalist for the people of Rotherham to lose.

Phil and my wife Sue went to school together and trained together as reporters on the Cannock Advertiser. We were all out on strike together on the week of our wedding in 1973 and I still cherish the photograph of Phil and fellow long-haired and bearded West Midlands Press journalists giving clenched fist salutes at the reception.

Solidarity from other trades unionists and supporters

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions:

Dear Mr Alexander [Rotherham Advertiser owner],
At our recent Conference we considered a number of issues concerning the press and media in Britain. We particularly supported the idea of a vibrant local press working in conjunction with the NUJ. Good local papers assist democracy in Britain and good industrial relations do too.
It is therefore with concern that I have learned of your company’s threat of redundancy of Mr Phil Turner and the support he is receiving from his union.
I write to protest against the position the company has taken so far and urge you to reconsider.
The GFTU will alert all of its affiliates to this matter if an amicable solution cannot be found.

Penny Gower, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Branch Secretary, Edinburgh College:

As EIS branch secretary of Edinburgh College, I write on behalf of the EIS branch, whose branch committee met today and unanimously asked me to express our shock and disgust at the sacking of journalist Phil Turner by his employers at the Rotherham Advertiser.

The fact that Phil has worked for you for more than 30 years and is the only person to have been dismissed from your editorial staff would make such a decision incomprehensible. However, we have learned that he is the senior union representative (Father of Chapel) working for the Rotherham Advertiser and the National Union Of Journalists union branch (chapel) will strike on Thursday 11 June in support of this key and very respected trade unionist.

We had not previously heard of your newspaper. However, if this decision is not reversed, we shall endeavour to widely publicise the Rotherham Advertiser in Scotland, as the epitome of victimising management.

Keith Chadwick, Burnley Unite and N/E Lancs TUC (personal capacity):

Phil Turner has a long track record as a trade unionist and defender of workmates conditions. It is symptomatic of the confidence that bosses have since the Tories got in office after this year’s general election. Phil's job needs defending with vigour.

In Solidarity.

Allister Mactaggart, Branch Chair, Chesterfield College UCU:

On behalf of Chesterfield College UCU, I would like to send you our solidarity greetings for the campaign to reinstate Phil Turner at the Rotherham Advertiser. The targeting and sacking of a union official and activist in such a manner is something that the whole Trade Union movement abhors and stands against.
We wish you well for the strike called for 11 June, and all subsequent actions should these be necessary in your campaign.
In solidarity.

Chris Beastall, Yorkshire & the Humber TUC:

Dear Colleagues,
The Yorkshire & the Humber TUC would like to wish you every success in your campaign to re-instate Phil Turner, and to offer our support on your day of action on 11 June 2015.
We have also written to Nick Alexander urging him to revise his decision and offering to broker a meeting with the NUJ, once the compulsory redundancy is withdrawn.
With best wishes, fraternally yours.

Candy Udwin, PCS National Gallery

Hi
I now know of 3 other trade union reps sacked since the election. We cant let this government give the green light to bosses intent on dismantling our unions.
I have known Phil for years as the person who you could always turn to for solidarity - most recently organising support for our strike at National Gallery against privatisation and my victimisation. Now he deserves solidarity for everyone.
And we need to use the anger over the election result to help us turn the tide against the government. We are also on strike on 11 June over my sacking so lets link up!
Good luck and let us know if we can help in any way.
Solidarity

Gary Shatford, UCATT:

I live in London and my union is UCATT. I am also a member of the SWP. I have been watching Phil's case and will be travelling up to Rotherham on Saturday. We must support Phil as much as we can. We have a similar situation in London with Candy Using a victimised rep at the National Gallery. If the Tories win these action it will give them hope that they can achieve them undoubtable aim of totally smashing all unions.
Yours in solidarity

Tom Machell, Chair BT Sheffield Branch Prospect, Prospect Communications, Media and Digital Sector Executive (personal capacity)

Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the protests as I will be away from South Yorkshire. I have however written today to the papers owners, the Advertisers editor and the owners HR lead, protesting at their decision.
Please ensure that my solidarity message reaches Phil.
Comradely

Jon Woods, President Portsmouth Traders Council, Portsmouth City UNISON Branch Chair:

Please pass on a message of support and solidarity to Phil and please let me know of how we in the Portsmouth trade union movement can help.
Yours in solidarity.

Sally Kincaid:

At Wakefield & District People Assembly meeting tonight we agreed that I should send you a message of support on behalf of our group to Phil and those taking strike action on the 11th June.
Yours in solidarity.

Peter Allison, Shop steward, Unison Tayside Health Branch (Personal capacity)

Dear Nick [Alexander, owner of the Rotherham Advertiser]
I have just been reading about the sacking of journalist Phil Turner who has 30 years’ service with the paper. I find this action appalling and a clear example of the targeting of an effective and well respected trade unionist. I would like to make you aware that the actions of bosses at the Rotherham Advertiser will be under close scrutiny and any action colleagues take in solidarity with Phil will gain widespread support.
Yours sincerely.

Ben Drake, Branch Chair, York City Unison:

Hi comrades
Quick line to offer solidarity for NUJ rep Phil Turner, who I understand has been targeted with sacking by bosses at the Rotherham Advertiser. Outrageous attack on a longstanding union rep, has to be resisted, especially now, with TU rights under attack by a newly-emboldened Tory government.

Kim Hunter, Scarborough:

As a former journalist and mother of chapel (Metal Bulletin, early 90s), I was both sad and angry to hear of Phil Turner's sacking, but cheered to discover his colleagues are prepared to fight on his behalf.
Good luck for your strike on the 11th. I know from experience that it is possible to win such disputes.
Phil's dismissal is victimisation, pure and simple, and if management gets away with it, Phil Turner will turn out to have been among the first names in a witch hunt. The bad news is that the Tories' second term has given the bosses confidence. The good news? If we fight back hard their overconfidence will trip them up.
I will raise Phil's sacking at End Austerity Now Scarborough's inaugural meeting tomorrow evening and hope to email you after the meeting with a message of solidarity. The fights against austerity and attacks on union activity are one.
In solidarity,

George Arthur, Press Officer, Barnsley Trades Council

Dear Sirs / Madam,
Having just returned from a two week holiday I was shocked to discover that Phil Turner has been sacked from the Rotherham Advertiser.
I have known Phil for a considerable number of years and have enjoyed his perceptive writing in the Rotherham Advertiser. I have found him to be sympathetic to people and always willing to find out all the facts of a story and give everyone a chance to put their views.
I know him to be reliable and conscientious.
I have also been impressed by the way he has carried out his trade union duties not just at the Rotherham Advertiser but also how he has raised support for other trade unionists who are in difficulties.
I was pleased with the way that he helped organise events in Rotherham that tried to bring the community together when there was the threat of communal discord. I remember helping him to build the massive Love Music Hate Racism event at Magna some years ago.
I can only assume that it is because of his effectiveness as a trade union representative that Phil has been singled out for compulsory redundancy. I am dismayed that a newspaper which should be providing a public service for the community should choose to make an obvious attack on trade union organisation.
I hope that you reconsider your decision and remove the threat to Phil immediately.

H. Falconer, Unison member and writer:

This is a message of support and solidarity to Phil Turner. It is appalling how he has been treated, especially considering the length of service he has given to this company. Journalists of ability and integrity should be valued and good trade -unionists defended.
I hope this decision is campaigned against and reversed soon.

Adam Cochrane:

I just want to send solidarity to Phil Turner in light of the disgraceful victimisation from the Rotherham Advertiser.
I have already contacted the chief executive, the editor and the HR director to express my disgust.
Phil's fight is our fight.
Best wishes

Melanie Powell:

Sending a Message to OUR COMRADE Phil Turner, to support him and please let Phil know that we are in the fight with him too, and that we will have his back and let the "Boss Men Know" that their actions are a Disgrace!!
Solidarity and Unity together will prevail.

Lucretia Packham, UCU East Midlands RMB

I would like to register my firm solidarity with solidarity with Phil Turner. I know all trade unionists will be supporting his cause.

Henry Rajch, Barnsley GMB

Cannot be at the Rally in defence of Phil Turner tomorrow but wish you a successful outcome in your fight to get the threat of redundancy overturned.

Craig Brandist, Sheffield UCU president

Dear Mr Alexander
I am writing on behalf of University of Sheffield staff to express deep concern at the threatened redundancy of Phil Turner, the NUJ Father of the Chapel at the Rotherham Advertiser.  We understand he has been working for the company for over 30 years, and is the only member of editorial staff to be so threatened.  This is not simply a trades union matter.  Freedom of the press is conditional on journalists feeling they are protected from arbitrary discipline.  This can undoubtedly sometimes be awkward for managements, but a balance is essential for a healthy society.  We have to strike a similar balance here at the University with academic freedom - again essential for a healthy society. We would strongly urge you to reconsider this threatened redundancy.

Andy Coles, Manchester UCU:

In solidarity with Phil Turner.

Liam Harron

Letter of Support for Phil Turner – Tuesday 9 June 2015
As a passionate and hard-working voluntary local activist I think that the contribution that Phil Turner can make to Rotherham over the coming months will be irreplaceable.
I therefore urge the decision-makers at the Rotherham Advertiser to reflect on the decision to make Phil Turner redundant. I think this decision is a grave mistake for the people of Rotherham and especially those most in need at this time.
In my view, if the decision-makers at the Rotherham Advertiser reverse this decision, the people of Rotherham will benefit and the esteem with which the Rotherham Advertiser is held will be maintained.
I have lived in or very close to Dinnington since 1977 (apart from six years teaching in Swaziland from 1980 to 1986) and taught in four schools in Rotherham. As a retired secondary school Headteacher, I am involved in a wide variety of voluntary activities in the Rotherham area and further afield, including being Newsletter Editor for the Hallam Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission.
In April 2014, I attended a public meeting in Rotherham organised by Phil Turner to tackle the appalling intrusion of extremists groups into Rotherham. Since then I have worked very closely alongside Phil Turner and with his support, Chrissy Meleady MBE and I jointly produced and published “Voices of Despair Voices of Hope” at the end of February 2015. This publication listens in a very powerful way to victims, survivors, their family members and others adversely and directly affected by Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). In many ways, Phil’s work in Rotherham was the inspiration for this publication.
I have personally witnessed Phil Turner’s extensive efforts over more than a year  to support the people of Rotherham, especially those most in need of support including CSE victims and minority groups.
I am very involved in trying to bring about improvements in Rotherham and to this end had three letters published in the Rotherham Advertiser on 21.11.14, 28.11.14 and 19.12.14 (See below).
If I can provide any further information of value please do not hesitate to let me know.
I strongly appeal to you to please reverse the decision to make Phil Turner redundant. I strongly believe that to do so will be seen as a very wise decision and a sign of maturity and strength.

Motions from NUJ chapels

FT chapel:

The FT chapel condemns management at the Rotherham Advertiser for dismissing long-serving reporter and FoC Phil Turner.
We believe that this compulsory redundancy is a political and individually targeted attack on the NUJ's long serving father of chapel at the paper. The fact that management seem determined to pursue a dispute likely to cost them more in a few weeks than a journalist's annual salary undermines their commercial competence and credibility.
The company's claims that a journalist with more than 30 years' service and an unrivalled knowledge of the local area has scored poorly in a redundancy selection matrix makes a mockery of the management's own arguments and undermines the credibility of the process. Phil Turner must be reinstated by the company immediately.
We urge colleagues in newspapers and news agency chapels to endorse similar motions and to contribute to the Rotherham Advertiser NUJ chapel's hardship fund ahead of a day-long strike on Thursday Jane 11.

Express Newspapers chapel:

The Express Newspapers chapel condemns management at the Rotherham Advertiser for dismissing long-serving reporter and FoC Phil Turner.
We believe that this compulsory redundancy is a political and individually targeted attack on the NUJ's long serving father of chapel at the paper. That management seem determined to pursue a dispute that is likely to cost them more in a few weeks than a journalist's annual salary undermines their commercial competence and credibility.
The company's claim that a journalist with more than 30 years' service and an unrivalled knowledge of the area has scored poorly in a redundancy selection matrix makes a mockery of the management's own arguments and undermines the credibility of the process. Phil Turner must be reinstated by the company immediately.

Morning Star chapel

The Morning Star NUJ chapel sends greetings to, and pledges solidarity with, the Rothertham Advertiser chapel in its campaign to defend FoC Phil Turner.

Phil has been a rock of solidarity not only to journalists in struggle, but also to the wider trades union movement in the Yorkshire region and beyond.

Management's selection of Phil for redundancy is a blatant act of victimisation of a trades unionist who has won respect across the NUJ, in the communities his paper serves, and in wider trades union and community struggles.

The respect in which he is held is reflected in the response of the labour and trades union movement to calls for a campaign in support of Phil and his chapel.

The Morning Star NUJ chapel adds its voice to those demanding that the redundancy notice be withdrawn, and pledges support until that aim is achieved.  James Rodie, FoC & Kadeem Simmonds, Deputy FoC, Morning Star.

Derry and North West Ireland branch

The Derry and North West Ireland branch of the National Union of Journalists extends our solidarity to the Rotherham Advertiser Chapel and to the South Yorkshire Branch in the campaign against the sacking of Phil Turner. This is an attack on the union, and on journalism.

We regret that were are unable to attend the rally in support of Phil, due to distance. However, please be assured of our total support. We see the attack on Phil as an attack on ourselves,  fraternally  Anton McCabe, branch secretary.


Oxford and District NUJ branch

We'd like to add our voice to the many who are calling on Nick Alexander to withdraw the decision to target Phil Turner,  FoC at the Rotherham Advertiser, for redundancy. That the company should even try to make out that targeting Phil in this way was the result of applying objective criteria beggars belief. The knowledge and experience Phil has gained through his long service at the paper make him an invaluable asset, and it is an insult to the readers that the company puts their own anti-union agenda ahead of the interests of the paper. We extend our solidarity to the chapel in your fight to defend your FoC. We'll be following the dispute closely and  wish you all the best for tomorrow's rally and the strike on Thursday.  Anna Wagstaff, secretary.


Tags: , phil turner, newspapers, local newspapers, chapels, rotherham advertiser, solidarity, redundancies