Apple Store staff unionize in London store with ´unprecedented’ redesign

Apple Store staff working in a newly designed store in a London shopping mall have unionized. They say they are seeking a pay raise, pay transparency, improvements to shift work, and less focus on metrics when assessing their work.

Apple Store aficionado Michael Steeber has described the new store design as “unprecedented” …


We first learned of retail staff plans to unionize back in February. Things progressed in April, 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 has so far 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 has 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. The unionization movement is, however, continuing to grow.

Apple Store staff unionize in west London

Apple Store staff at the White City store, based in a major shopping mall in west London, have unionized through the Union of Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW). Apple has been asked to recognize the union, and the law gives the company 10 days to respond.

The UTAW is a branch of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which seeks to represent and fight for workers’ interests in the tech industry.

Apple staff in west London say they are seeking five main changes:

  • A pay increase to match the rising cost of living
  • Pay transparency, and improved alignment, to ensure workers are being compensated for the work they are doing
  • Changes to shift patterns to ensure staff have longer hours for travel and rest between shifts
  • An end to the third-party app that is currently used to manage shifts to enable more flexibility
  • A reduction in metric-driven management that is leading to stress, burnout, and overwork

A full list of the union’s demands can be found here.

They say that Apple has the resources to assist staff in coping with runaway inflation, which is reducing the real value of their pay.

Apple is a $2 trillion company; its growth and financial success has been driven by committed and skilful employees. While many of the economic challenges staff face are symptoms of the ongoing cost of living crisis, workers believe Apple’s extensive financial power means it not only has the resources but also the responsibility to recognise their needs in a particularly challenging economic environment.

“Unprecedented” store design

Michael Steeber, a leading expert on Apple’s retail stores, says that the design of the White City store is unique, and hard to categorize.

The new Apple White City features a design so unprecedented to me that I’ve been struggling with how to classify it in my app, Facades. The store meets most of the criteria for both a New Store Design and Vintage D.2 store, but all of the criteria for neither. Let’s look closer.

There are limestone walls, recessed Avenues, and indoor trees with integrated seating — all hallmarks of the New Store Design era. Missing are a Forum, Video Wall and plank or LED ceiling panels.

There is also a dedicated Apple Pickup area in the rear center of the store (appearing here like a drop-in Video Wall replacement), two smaller Today at Apple displays and tables, and a suspended ceiling made of acoustic fabric — telltale features of the latest stores. Missing are freestanding Avenues, acoustic fabric walls, and an inconspicuous storefront.

These design elements aren’t individually novel — this doesn’t feel exactly like a new type of store — but they’ve never been combined in this way.

Photo: Evening Standard

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Author: Subham

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