UPDATED: Unions To Fight De-Recogntion At Peguin Random House

penguin-random-house-uk-logoLast week Unite and the NUJ recived notifcation that Penguin Random House intended to de-recognise unions at the PRHUK sites in London. This is remenisiant of the 1980s when publishers began the process of derecognsing the print unions and the NUJ for no reason.

Here is a letter from Unite and the NUJ to workers and chapels at Penguin Random House UK .

“Penguin Random House UK have this week notified both the NUJ and Unite the Union that they are not renewing the house agreements for staff across both sites at 80 Strand and Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Staff will be aware that the company gave notice on the collective agreements at the end of September and talks have been ongoing since then. While the talks began well and much common ground was found in bringing together the Penguin and Random House collective terms, the unions are unable to accept the company’s stance on Redundancy Payment terms.

For Penguin employees, these terms in the collective agreement are also contained within the Terms and Conditions for Penguin Books Ltd, and this therefore makes your redundancy terms contractual. This is not the case for staff at Random House, and the company are seeking to align the terms to those of RH, removing from Penguin employees both their accrued terms and any future protections around redundancy compensation.  The company is not prepared to have any reference to redundancy terms in the House Agreement.

This was not acceptable to the Penguin Random House UK Chapel or the unions, and the company have made no attempt to compromise on this matter.

For this reason the company have chosen not to extend the current agreement, or to continue the talks to find a solution. While the negotiating team have asked the company to consider further discussions under the auspices of ACAS (the independent conciliation service), the company has declined this offer.

In the meantime your union reps and full-time officials at the NUJ and UNITE will be commencing a campaign across the sites to restore the collective agreement through the legal channels of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – effectively an industrial court that decides recognition issues.

Under the law in the UK, if more than 10% of the workforce are in the Union (and this is the case here) and the majority of the workforce demonstrate their support for a union agreement, then the union can be legally recognised and the agreements restored.

All PRHUK staff, whether they are in a union or not, are now being asked to sign our petition to restore the union rights at the company and to ensure we can continue to negotiate on your behalf in future years.

The union agreement not only provides the collective means for the workforce to negotiate with the company, it provides for the annual pay negotiations and it provides a strong voice on behalf of the employees. PRHUK have this week unilaterally terminated that relationship without any consultation with the wider workforce. Not only is this a blatant disregard of the views and wishes of the employees, it damages quite significantly the good reputation of the business as being one that cares about people.

We want to demonstrate to the company that the employees at PRHUK do not accept this and want those collective rights restored and their terms and conditions to be protected.

The petition you are being asked to sign is confidential and your name WILL NOT be shared with the employer but will be shared with the independent body ACAS or the CAC”.

The Campaign For Trade Union Freedom will be following the dispute and supporting Unite and the NUJ in this blatant attempt at union busting by the biggest book publisher in the world.

Click here to read news item in The Guardian:

Statement issued by PRH, Unite and NUJ on 21st December:

Unite/NUJ Press Release

Statement from Tom Weldon, Penguin Random House UK, Fiona Swarbrick, National Union of Journalists, and Louisa Bull, Unite

 “Penguin Random House UK, Unite and the NUJ held a positive meeting today (Wednesday 21 December) at which all parties agreed to continue talks with the aim of securing a new collective agreement for the combined Penguin Random House UK business.

 “While some elements of the agreement in discussion are yet to be finalised and agreed upon, we are pleased to be working together to resolve these final points and come to a mutually acceptable position.”

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