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Apple to cut working hours for retail staff, Microsoft open to unionisation

Image of Apple store in Hong Kong
(Source: Reuters.)

Apple will make work schedules for US retail staff flexible amid a push towards unionisation, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing sources.

The company told staff at some stores that scheduling changes will take effect in the coming months, the report said, quoting workers. The changes will include extending the minimum time period between shifts to 12 hours from 10 hours.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Last week, the iPhone maker told Reuters it will raise pay for its US employees to $22 per hour or more.

The Cupertino-based company, known for its reticent culture, was last year criticised online for its working conditions by some current and former workers.

In April, workers at Apple’s Atlanta store filed a petition to hold a union election, seeking to become the company’s first US store to unionise amid a wave of labour activity at other major firms.

Microsoft recognises rights of staff to unionise

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp will not resist unionisation efforts from its employees, its president Brad Smith said on Thursday, in a sign of growing receptiveness in the tech sector that has been for long unconcerned about organised labour.

Microsoft recognises employees’ legal right to choose to form or join a union, although they “will never need to organise to have a dialogue” with leaders, Smith said in a blog post on Thursday.

The comment comes against the backdrop of recent agitations from employees at several technology companies.

Last month, a small group of workers in a division of “Call of Duty” videogame maker Activision Blizzard, which is being taken over by Microsoft, voted in favour of unionising.

In response, Activision said it believes 19 employees should not be able to make a decision impacting a larger group of its employees.

Amazon has been long opposed to unionisation efforts by its warehouse employees and was last month accused of threatening staff over a union vote.

“Recent unionisation campaigns across the country – including in the tech sector – have led us to conclude that inevitably these issues will touch on more businesses, potentially including our own,” Smith said.

Microsoft does not believe that employees or other stakeholders will benefit by resisting lawful efforts to participate in activities like unionisation, he added.

  • Reporting by Akash Sriram and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, of Reuters.

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