Penguin Random House UK has proposed a new collective agreement to London employees with the endorsement of Unite and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) following 10 months of negotiations.
In a joint statement, the three organisations said they were confident the new agreement offered "fair terms" for PRH employees and represented "significant progress".
Talks between the unions and the publisher resumed on 21st December 2016 after Penguin Random House derecognised the NUJ and Unite on 19th December for collective bargaining with its management. A new house agreement had been under discussion throughout the autumn of 2016 to cover all the divisions of merged PRH, but at the time they failed to reach a resolution, with redundancy terms in particular a sticking point.
At the time staff said they were “bewildered” and “nervous” about the move, which broke a strong history of good relations between unions and management on the Penguin side of the business. PRH UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon told staff at the time there had been "factual inaccuracies" in the unions' presentation of its case while in turn, the unions accused the company of being "disingenuous" in its approach to the negotiation.
Over 140 authors, including Meg Rosoff, David Almond and Mary Hoffman, also signed a petition calling for the publishing house to reconsider its decision to end its formal relationship with the unions.
Now both Unite and the NUJ are recommending the new collective agreement and redundancy guidance to their members and asked them to vote on whether to accept the terms, the details of which are being sent out to union members tomorrow (28th September).
While Louisa Bull, Unite lead officer, GPM & IT Sector, would not yet reveal the new terms, she told The Bookseller it was a “positive agreement” which retained recognition for the unions and protected the terms and conditions Penguin had before.
The joint statement read: “We’re pleased to be putting forward a new agreement to Penguin Random House UK’s London employees. We are confident it offers fair terms, bringing Penguin Random House’s London employees under one collective agreement.
“Together we’re working hard to ensure employees understand the revised arrangement and have the opportunity to ask questions. This agreement represents the significant progress we’ve made through open and productive negotiation.
“Both Unions will be recommending the new agreement and redundancy guidance to their members and have now commenced a ballot of their membership and the results will be known on Thursday 12th October 2017.”