As you may have read Penguin Random House UK have decided to derecognise staff unions within their offices. A number of publishers don’t recognise unions so we spoke to Penguin Random House employees about what was going on.
Why is union recognition important?
Union recognition is important because no matter what a company has at it objectives, the employees are always involved and protected.
When you have salary negotiations, it is the union that does the negotiating. If you are getting divorced, you don’t share the same lawyer with your divorcing spouse, you have independent representation that works for you, and represents your interests; someone who is on your side.
No matter how much a company says in principle that they will endeavour to protect employees’ rights, the reality is sometimes very far from this.
A number of other publishers aren’t unionised, why is it so important?
What made Penguin Random House better and special was that the union was recognised and it is part of our DNA.
We’ve always taken pride in the fact the unions were recognised and many left-wing authors were happy to be published by us.
Penguin Random House are a brand name; we’re like John Lewis and the BBC. We have standards to upload and a reputation to keep. Part of our brand recognition is that we are the good guys, we always behave impeccably in all situations.
How do the employees feel about this?
Shock and bewilderment at all levels. Even senior people were not aware of the decision; it has caught everyone unawares.
The unions have always worked with the company to ensure the best possible outcomes
They say we have a Staff Forum, but a Staff Forum is that; it is a place for people to raise issues which then often get buried or forgotten about, because it is run by the company for the company and not for the benefit of the employees, no matter what the company says.
Any other thoughts?
The unions at Penguin Random House have always had a positive influence on the business; they have always worked with the management to ensure the best possible outcomes for the company and the employees.
We’ve always been a team and really collaborative; we have never made unreasonable demands. It is extremely distressing to know that we are moving buildings soon, a time when the company will obviously be making some redundancies.
There are many people in the building who have worked here for over 30 years; they are part of our archive and history. Everyone who works here makes a huge contribution to the company success and should be rewarded accordingly, especially if redundancy is involved.
We’d be eager to hear your thoughts and comments on the situation at Penguin Random House. Do you agree that union recognition should go or do you think, as the employees above do, that it should stay? You can either comment below or message us. As with all our emails; any communication send privately, will be treated in the strictest confidence.