Support gathers for Phil Turner
Phil Turner in Kashmir, reporting the earthquake. - © Guy Smallman 2015
5 June 2015
Messages of support for Phil Turner, the NUJ official targeted for redundancy at the Rotherham Advertiser, have been flooding in, including a letter from Sarah Champion, the town's MP.
The huge groundswell of support has been voiced on Facebook and Twitter and a demonstration will take place in the town centre on Saturday, starting at noon in All Saints Square.
Phil's colleagues on the Advertiser have voted to go on a 24-hour strike on Thursday 11 June.
The redundancy process was started when the paper was sold by the Garnett Dickinson Group to Nick Alexander, a former group chief executive. The NUJ believe that Phil, who has worked on the paper for 30 years, was selected for redundancy because of his union role.
In her letter to Nick Alexander, Sarah Champion MP said:
"I am contacting you to express my sadness and concern that Phil Turner has been selected for redundancy from his position at the Rotherham Advertiser.
"I know Phil to be a skilled and committed journalist. His over 30 year tenure at the paper has left him with an unrivalled understanding of Rotherham and its community. I was therefore troubled to hear that Phil has been let go from the paper he has served with such distinction.
"I am aware that concerns have been raised, both by Phil’s colleagues and by the National Union of Journalists, regarding the procedure in which employees were selected for redundancy. It has been suggested by the Union that Phil’s role as the Father of Chapel at the Advertiser may have been a factor in the decision. I am sure you would agree that it is imperative that this is demonstrated to not be the case."
Linda McAvan, MEP Yorkshire and the Humber, has also written to Mr Alexander. She said:
"I know that Phil has worked at the Advertiser for more than 30 years and is deeply committed to local journalism. I also know that there are concerns that his redundancy is linked to his union activities as NUJ Father of Chapel... I am sure you would agree that the right to join and be active in a trade union is a fundamental right in any democratic society. I hope therefore you will reconsider the compulsory redundancy during the appeal process."
The Financial Times chapel passed a motion condemning the management at the Rotherham Advertiser and collected £84 for those taking strike action. It said:
"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."
The chapel at the Express passed a similar motion saying:
"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 union is urging NUJ members and supporters to contact the company in protest:
Please send respectful messages of protest to Rotherham Advertiser chief executive Nick Alexander and copy in the editor Andrew Mosley and HR officer Debbie Commander.
Send messages of support and solidarity to Phil Turner: