Journalists at Rotherham Advertiser agree deadline-day strike over sacking of FoC

Rotherham Advertiser journalists have agreed to take strike action over the compulsory redundancy of the newspaper's Father of Chapel, the National Union of Journalists has announced.

The NUJ said there will be a 24-hour walkout on Thursday 11 June, the weekly newspaper's deadline day.

The title was owned by the same family for a century until March this year when a sale was agreed by Garnett Dickinson Group to former chief executive Nick Alexander.

After the takeover was agreed management asked for redundancy volunteers and then began a consultation process on making compulsory cutbacks.

As a result of that process, one journalist out of 14 editorial staff was singled out for redundancy: long-standing union rep Phil Turner.

Turner has worked for the company for 30 years and spent most of that time also filling the position of NUJ Father of Chapel.

Press Gazette understands that 94 per cent of the Advertiser’s editorial staff are members of the NUJ.

The NUJ is calling on members and supporters to contact the company in protest. It said: "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."

Rotherham Advertiser management said in a statement yesterday: "The accusation that the union rep at the Rotherham Advertiser was deliberately targeted is absolute nonsense. The union is looking for conspiracy where there is none.

"The skills matrix was agreed with the union, who suggested and agreed to amendments in its make-up and whose members were involve throughout the consultation process.

"Digital skills are becoming more important in the sustainability of a media business and the skills matrix reflected that and our desire to move forward, in common with every other newspaper, on a multi-platform level.

"The decision is obviously subject to appeal so it would be inappropriate to comment directly on an individual case."

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: "The chapel are steadfast in their desire to prevent a deep injustice, resist an attack on their chapel but also prevent the company doing damage to its own business.

"Our members have been forced to take this step because of the manoeuvrings of management to get rid of their FoC. It shows they will not look the other way but will stand up for what is right – in this they have the 100 per cent backing of the union nationally and the wider labour movement.

"It is highly regrettable that the company have publicly claimed that the skills matrix used to justify Phil Turner’s dismissal was ‘agreed’ by the chapel. This is an entirely false assertion and should be withdrawn immediately. Various points were raised with managers by members as part of the consultation process, but the company adopted these or not as they saw fit without any ‘agreement’.

"There is still time for the company to think again and I hope very much they do so that a sensible outcome can be arrived at. The NUJ is ready and willing to talk but it cannot be with this dismissal notice hanging over the FoC’s head."

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