The 18-strong group of officials were put in touch with Prospect by the TUC when they sought advice after hearing their contracts were to be reviewed.
Peter Walton, the referees’ representative, said: "Once we became professional, it was clear we needed one voice to negotiate our terms and conditions with management. We required professional advice on employment law and recognised Prospect’s expertise."
The referees are premiership officials – termed the ‘select group’ by their employer, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited. This arms length organisation is overseen by the chief executives of the Football Association, FA Premier League and the Football League.
Prospect national secretary Alan Leighton said: "Premiership referees are a high-profile addition to our ranks and we are proud to provide them with a collective voice. Once they joined us, we successfully re-negotiated their contracts."
Prospect won an improved pay structure, in particular for the lowest paid referees; an increase to the notice period; improved allowances, and two days’ extra annual leave.
Leighton said that further negotiations on issues such as sick pay, image rights, retirement age, the appraisal process and bonus arrangements would take place next.
But he stressed: "My new responsibility does not include offering comment on every contentious decision during premiership football fixtures. That is for the football pundits. Prospect is there to argue for better terms and conditions, as for any other group of members."