UK Apple Store workers sign first union contract

Glasgow staff are pushing for better working conditions.

Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Apple

Months after a successful vote, Apple Store employees in Glasgow have become the company's first retail workers to form a union in the UK. Apple and the trade union GMB Scotland have signed a collective bargaining agreement that theoretically gives staff at the Buchanan Street store more clout when pushing for improved working conditions.

The Glasgow employees voted to unionize in November. They sought better pay, increased wage transparency and improved shift scheduling. Union negotiators characterized talks with Apple as positive, but it took several months before workers cast ballots.

GMB organizer John Slaven calls the union vote "historic." In a statement to The Herald, Apple says it's one of the "highest paying" retail brands in Scotland, and offers "industry-leading benefits" to employees. Apple raised starting wages for store workers last year in response to mounting labor action, but it also faces formal complaints over alleged union busting tactics.

These aren't the first Apple retail employees to create unions. In addition to teams in Europe, some stores in the US voted to unionize last year. The Glasgow move adds to the momentum, however, and may help other UK store workers pursuing their own unionization efforts.