A union demonstration will take place at the weekend over plans to make a weekly newspaper reporter and Father of Chapel redundant.
A 24-hour strike has already been called by NUJ members at the weekly for 11 June and a demonstration is set to take place in Rotherham town centre this Saturday.
A Facebook page, pictured below, has also been set up calling for Phil’s reinstatement and has been liked by more than 900 people in just three days.
Saturday’s protest will see members of the Advertiser chapel joined by other NUJ members from South Yorkshire branch and beyond, as well as other trade unionists from across the country.
The redundancy process was started at the Advertiser in March after the paper was sold by the Garnett Dickinson Group to Nick Alexander, a former group chief executive.
The NUJ said that Phil, who has worked there for 30 years, was selected for redundancy out of 14 editorial staff and claims he was ‘targeted’ because of his union role.
But the company has dismissed this as ‘absolute nonsense’ and said its decision was based on a skills matrix which was agreed with the union.
However, the NUJ has rejected this claim.
Julia Armstrong, chair of the South Yorkshire NUJ branch, said: “Phil is a very well known local journalist as well as a highly respected trade unionist and socialist.
“The campaign so far has been very popular because so many people know Phil as a fighter for ordinary working class people, as well as because in South Yorkshire we have already seen a big reaction against the new Tory government.
“We see this as a clear attack on the NUJ and we will fight it all the way alongside the NUJ chapel at the Advertiser. who are unanimous in their opposition to this redundancy.”
She added that messages of support had come from as far afield as Ireland and New Zealand and the management at the Advertiser had been ‘inundated’ with objections.
Saturday’s protest, which takes place from noon in All Saints Square, will see demonstrators marching around the town centre and a rally with speakers before and after.
The NUJ said the ballot for strike action had been backed unanimously by members of the Advertiser chapel, who held a mandatory chapel meeting last Thursday.
A company spokesperson said: “We are aware of and appreciate the support shown to Phil, but the message being put out by the NUJ and other unions appears to be that the only real issue is that of some imagined victimisation, not the fact that a job is going.
“Also, calls for boycotts from members of other unions would only serve to hit sales and do not help anyone, least of all employees at the paper.”