Apple recognizes union of UK Apple Store workers, will negotiate

A “historic” agreement has seen Apple recognize a union of UK Apple Store workers, some three months after staff voted in favor of unionizing. It happened just one day after the company appointed its first ever Chief People Officer.

Apple has signed a collective bargaining agreement which will see the company negotiate with the union over pay, shift patterns, and other working conditions…


The Apple Store unionization movement dates back a year now. Things progressed in April of last year, with a formal start to the process at Apple’s flagship Grand Central Terminal store in New York. This was followed by similar moves in Atlanta and Maryland, before expanding internationally to the UK and Australia.

Apple initially reacted aggressively, hiring the same union-busting lawyers employed by Starbucks. The company is now facing multiple accusations of using illegal union-busting techniques. This led at least two stores to suspend their unionization efforts, both citing intimidation by management. The first was the Atlanta store, back in May, and the St. Louis store subsequently doing the same.

More recently, however, the company appears to be somewhat softening its stance. It has agreed to a third-party audit of its labor practices, and appointed its first Chief People Officer in apparent recognition of the fact that it has work to do here.

Apple recognizes union in Glasgow, Scotland

Apple Store staff in Glasgow were the first in the UK to unionize, ahead of a London store, with “many others” said to be interested.

They joined the GMB (a union known solely by its initials, as the full name of General, Municipal, and Boilermakers Union is a hangover from history), and applied for recognition by Apple. They said that low pay and unfair shift patterns were the main issues.

The GMB today announced that Apple has now agreed to recognize and negotiate with the union.

Staff in the city’s Buchanan Street store will now be able to elect workplace representatives to bargain and consult with the employer on issues including pay distribution, working time arrangements and holiday entitlements.

John Slaven, GMB Scotland Organiser, said: “The collective agreement is the first of its kind in Apple’s UK operations and the workers’ determination to campaign and organize for bargaining rights with their employer is a shining example to the rest of the country, and the world.

“We must also acknowledge and welcome Apple’s decision to engage openly with its workers and our union, both in the pursuit of recognition last year, and now as signatories to the Buchanan Street store’s agreement.

Apple did not directly comment on its decision, but told The Herald that it has always wanted to provide an excellent experience for its workers.

We have long been committed to providing an excellent experience for our customers and teams. Apple is one of the highest paying retailers in Scotland and we’ve regularly made enhancements to our industry-leading benefits as a part of the overall support we provide to our valued team members.

9to5Mac’s Take

This is a positive move on Apple’s part, and it seems unlikely to be a coincidence that it happened just one day after the company announced the appointment of a new Chief People Officer.

This hopefully signals a desire by the Cupertino company to address the concerns of retail staff, and form a more cooperative relationship with them.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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