2,780 Boots Pharmacists can make change happen

The PDA Union have announced that they will need at least 2,780 votes in favour of terminating an agreement that prevents Boots employees from securing an independent voice at work. Then, the PDA Union can apply for recognition as the independent trade union working on behalf of Boots pharmacists.

Thu 8th March 2018 PDA Union

The PDA Union have been campaigning for over 7 years to secure this change that will allow them to negotiate pay, hours, holidays and other working conditions on behalf of Boots pharmacists. This is the first ballot of its kind and a successful collective bargaining agreement could pave the way for the PDA Union to replicate this in other pharmacy employers, which will give more pharmacists an independent voice at work and a greater say over their working lives.

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary of the PDA Union explained: “The law relating to trade union derecognition ballots requires not only that we obtain a majority in the ballot, but at least 40% of those entitled to vote, do vote for change.”

As neither Boots nor the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA) could prove which employees were covered by the scope of their recognition agreement, signed in 2012, a court hearing on 19 January 2018 determined that those who will get a vote, known as the ‘Bargaining Unit’, consists of “registered and pre-registration pharmacists at levels 5, 6 and 7 who are employed by the Employer.”

Mr. Pitt continued: “With approximately 6,950 Boots employees in the bargaining unit it means the 40% threshold will only be met if at least 2,780 individuals vote to derecognise the BPA. We need to encourage every person in the bargaining unit to use their vote”.

The law means that a clear majority vote could still allow the status quo to continue if less than the 40% minimum number vote for change.  For example, if 2,500 employees were to vote to end the Boots/BPA agreement, and only 100 were to vote to retain it, the agreement would continue because that would be less than the required 40% even though the voting in this example would be 25:1 in favour of ending the agreement.

The secret postal ballot will be run by an independent person on behalf of the Government’s Central Arbitration Committee and will be entirely confidential. Every employee in the bargaining unit gets a vote whether they are a member of the PDA Union, of the BPA, of both or of neither. Voting is completely confidential, neither Boots, the BPA or the PDA Union will know how people voted.

Mr. Pitt concluded: “The ballot is NOT about the future of the BPA, nor about who can join the BPA or indeed anything else. If the Boots/BPA agreement ends, the company and the BPA can continue to work together as they did for almost 40 years before they signed the agreement.”

“The ballot outcome will create a legally enforceable decision as to what happens to the agreement that currently blocks the PDA Union from being able to obtain recognition and so be able to negotiate on terms and conditions such as pay, hours and other working conditions on behalf of those employees.”

Notes to Editor

About the PDA

The PDA (The Pharmacists’ Defence Association) is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to act upon and support the needs of individual pharmacists and, when necessary, defend their reputation. All PDA members are entitled to free PDA Union membership.

The PDA Union is the only trade union in the UK exclusively for pharmacists. It has a certificate of independence and is a member of Unions21 and EPhEU. The PDA and the PDA Union have more than 27,000 members.

For press enquiries, please contact:

Shemaine Rose
PR & Communications
T: +44 (0)121 513 0950
E: press@the-pda.org
W: www.the-pda.org

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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