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Apple has made history by recognizing a union of its UK Apple Store workers, three months after staff voted in favor of unionizing. The company has signed a collective bargaining agreement, which will see the company negotiate with the union over pay, shift patterns, and other working conditions. The move comes one day after Apple appointed its first-ever Chief People Officer.
The Apple Store unionization movement started a year ago and gained momentum in April with the formal start of the process at Apple’s flagship Grand Central Terminal store in New York, followed by similar moves in Atlanta and Maryland, and eventually expanding internationally to the UK and Australia.
Initially, Apple reacted aggressively, hiring union-busting lawyers, which led to multiple accusations of using illegal union-busting techniques. This caused at least two stores to suspend their unionization efforts, citing intimidation by management. However, the company seems to have softened its stance in recent months, agreeing to a third-party audit of its labor practices and the appointment of its first Chief People Officer.
The first Apple Store in the UK to unionize was located in Glasgow, Scotland. The staff joined the GMB union and applied for recognition by Apple, citing low pay and unfair shift patterns as the main issues. The GMB announced that Apple has now agreed to recognize and negotiate with the union.
The staff in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street store will now be able to elect workplace representatives to bargain and consult with the company on various matters, including pay distribution, working time arrangements, and holiday entitlements.
Apple did not directly comment on its decision but told The Herald that the company has always been committed to providing an excellent experience for its workers and customers. This recognition of the union marks a positive move by Apple and signals the company’s desire to address the concerns of its retail staff and form a more cooperative relationship.