NUJ activist Phil Turner gets his job back after union campaign

Trade unionists rally in Rotherham to support NUJ rep Phil Turner, June 2015

Trade unionists rally in Rotherham to support NUJ rep Phil Turner, June 2015

A union rep threatened with redundancy has had his job saved after his colleagues threatened to go on strike.

NUJ rep Phil Turner, a long-serving journalist at the Rotherham Advertiser, was the only member of the newspaper’s editorial team to be told he was going to lose his job.

His colleagues planned to go on strike yesterday, but called the action off at the last minute after managers agreed to give Phil his job back and sign a new house agreement with the union.

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.”

NUJ organiser Chris Morley 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.”

A rally and march was held in Rotherham town centre last Saturday. 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.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet 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 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.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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