Seagate used bullying tactics to prevent union recognition, claims Unite

Staff at Northern Ireland facility voted in ballot that forces drivemaker's hand, union says

Seagate workers building external hard drives in Northern Ireland have voted for trade union recognition, meaning they now have collective bargaining rights and potentially a layer of employment protection.

Unite the union says the yes vote was delivered "overwhelmingly" by the 540 "manufacturing specialists" that operate out of the Springtown facility, near Derry or Londonderry, depending on your preference.

The ballot, we're told by Unite, came after a "protracted battle with the statutory process taking over a year," with Seagate accused of bringing in "union busters" into the frame that the union claimed were previously used by Amazon in the US to prevent unionization Stateside.

"This is a huge win," claimed Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional secretary for Ireland. "Seagate is one of Northern Ireland's leading manufacturers and if a union can be built there - in the face of such a professional and well-financed anti-union campaign, then it can be built anywhere."

"Seagate bosses tried to put every obstacle they could to prevent their workers securing union recognition but our members had the determination needed to carry their campaign to victory," she trilled.

Following the ballot, Seagate had 30 days to negotiate, we're told.

"Management must now ditch their anti-union tactics and instead stick to down with the union reps to negotiate a voluntary collective bargaining deal, or else face the imposition of a statutory agreement."

We asked Seagate to comment on the ballot and the claims from Unite the union. A spokesperson sent us a statement:

"The Industrial Court has notified Seagate on the outcome of the union recognition ballot. This has been an employee decision. Our priority remains to maintain a respectful workplace and we will continue to work together with employees to sustain a successful business and a positive workplace for everyone."

"We have no further information to add at this time."

Seagate is understood to employ around 1,200 staff at its facility in Northern Ireland. It embarked on a cost purge in March last year, amid falling sales and profit at the global level.

The union recognition came too late for people that left the business last year but in an industry that is seemingly addicted to constantly trimming expenses, we'd bet on Seagate trimming more personnel again. ®

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