United, We Publish: a round up of Tuesday’s Unite workshop

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Karina Maduro is an aspiring publisher, currently studying MA Publishing at UCL. Here she gives us the low down on Tuesday’s Unite event, United, We Publish.

group As a student, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event because it seemed to be aimed at current employees. However, it proved to be an extremely insightful and informative evening. Ann Field opened the evening with a brief overview of Unite. Stephen Gilbert then followed, with an introduction to The Printing Charity and the support they offer to young people via The Print Futures Awards.

Louisa BullThese introductions were followed by two sessions. The first I attended was led by Louisa Bull, and focused on employees’ rights regarding pay and rewards. Louisa raised the point that people are often reluctant to discuss these issues, or feel uncomfortable with it. Therefore, it was great that many of the attendees felt comfortable enough to open up about their experiences and difficulties. Common issues included poor pay, unequal pay and the difficulty of getting promoted. While this was quite daunting to hear as a current student and future publisher, it was beneficial to gain first hand accounts of peoples’ experiences in the workplace.

DubbinsThe second session focused on Unite as an international union, and was led by Simon Dubbins. I believe that addressing employees’ rights on an international scale is an important and growing issue. Most companies operate on a global scale, particularly the conglomerates within the industry such as Penguin Random House and Hachette. Unite spoke about the importance of regulating conditions across companies’ global branches, and also discussed the potential impact of the upcoming referendum. (My group were all in agreement that Britain should remain in the EU, which somewhat quieted the discussion.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and it was interesting to hear from those currently facing issues within the industry. As a future publisher, it is somewhat unnerving to become aware of the issues facing the workplace. However, it is also comforting to know that support is always available. In future, it would be great to hear about the anxieties of young people entering the workplace. For example, it would be useful to discuss topics such as work experience, internships, and negotiating pay with your first employer. However, regardless of whether you are a current of future employee, I would highly recommend this event.

For more photos of the event, see our photo blog or visit our Facebook page.

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