Apple Store union movement reaches the UK

Apple Store union movement reaches the UK

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The Apple Store union movement has now crossed the Atlantic, as staff at an Apple Store in Glasgow, Scotland, have joined a union representing retail and other workers across the UK.

The union says that there is a huge disconnect between Apple’s claimed values, and its treatment of retail staff …


The unionization movement began in the US.

We first learned of retail staff plans to unionize back in February, when groups at two stores were reportedly preparing paperwork to file with the National Labor Relations Board, with about six more locations at earlier stages of planning. 

We saw a formal start to the process at Apple’s flagship Grand Central Terminal store in New York, with a number of goals for a better deal for staff. This was followed by similar moves in Atlanta and Maryland.

Apple responded with a carrot-and-stick approach. The stick was an aggressive claim that unionization could slow, rather than accelerate, change – so aggressive that two complaints of illegal union-busting have been filed. The carrot was the announcement of pay raises and other improvements in working conditions for retail staff.

A bid for unionization at the Atlanta store has since been withdrawn for now, with organisers claiming that Apple engaged in illegal union-busting activities.

Apple Store union in the UK

The Glasgow Times reports that workers at the Apple Store in Glasgow have 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).

Workers here are leading the charge in the UK having filed for Voluntary Union Recognition with Apple after joining GMB Scotland.

They claim low wages, lack of pay transparency and unfair shift patterns have pushed them to make the move.

An Apple worker, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “In the UK Apple have staff forums, but these are continually shown to be ineffectual and feedback is ignored. It is a one-way conversation. We need our own representatives and a proper voice to change things. People are suffering with the cost-of-living crisis. We need a pay rise, pay transparency and a voice.”

The GMB union accused Apple of hypocrisy.

GMB organiser John Slaven said: “Apple speaks the language of social justice but in practice it is the same story of low pay, unfair shift patterns and lack of respect. These workers realise they need an independent voice and that can only come through unionisation” […]

GMB now claim they have the majority of workers in membership in the Glasgow store with many other enquiries from other stores across the UK.

It warned that Apple cannot bury its head in the sand and hope that the unionization movement goes away.

Rather than fight against the inevitable, Apple must listen to its workers, respect their desire to organise, and work with our reps to make it happen, because this drive for recognition isn’t going away.

Apple issued its now-usual boilerplate statement on union issues.

We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple. We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits, including private healthcare, enhanced parental leaves, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits for every team member.

Photo: Apple

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