In a recent development that has left the publishing industry dismayed, Penguin Random House has cut ties with two publishing trade unions, a decision that directly affects staff at its London headquarters.
It is reported that talks between the large publisher and the unions broke down when representatives were unable to meet an agreement over terms of payment. Over 140 authors have signed an open letter to the publishing giant, urging that it rescind its decision – calling into question Penguin Random House’s commitment to the democratic impulses that informed its founding. Author, Michael Rosen, had this to say:
Penguin is a large company concerned with the free circulation of ideas, part of what Émile Zola called the ‘republic of letters’. Free trade unions are part of the world which believes in that. If the Penguin company want to be known as flag-bearers within the republic of letters, they should of course allow all their employees to be members of trade unions and to negotiate with union representatives.
Representatives from Penguin Random House played down the disputes, insisting their openness for continued conversation. Those at the union are critical of these claims, as talks are open to continue given the union drop aspects of the terms of payment that they deem redundant.
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