Boots Pharmacists: Why the 40% hurdle is so important

The PDA Union want to make sure that pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists understand why every vote in the ballot due in February 2019 is critical if they are to finally secure an independent voice at work.

Sun 25th November 2018 PDA Union

The legislation which applies to these matters is the Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (as amended from time to time) also known as “TULRCA” and it requires that for change to happen recognition ballots must not only demonstrate a majority of those who vote, do support recognition, but also those who vote for change must consist of at least 40% of all those entitled to vote.

In the campaign by Boots pharmacists to get their union recognised there are approximately 7,000 pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists entitled to vote which means 40% of that number would be c.2,800.  So if 2,799 people voted yes and just a handful voted against (or even if nobody voted against) the ballot would be lost for the sake of a couple of votes.

If the ballot is lost, then the law means that Boots pharmacists would be blocked from making a further application to get their union recognised for a period of three years.

Those who want to deny pharmacists their independent voice at work will benefit from a low turnout and may even try to discourage participation in the ballot.  PDA Union negotiators had to work hard to persuade the company not to have the ballot during the hectic Christmas period when we know that you are extremely busy during this critical trading time.

Boots pharmacists are saying that senior managers are embarking on a “Charm Offensive” to persuade them that the company is listening and therefore they do not need the PDA Union involved.  Pharmacists working in difficult conditions also question the money currently being spent on expensively produced and slick videos, trying to portray the human side of senior leaders, and whether the hosting of lavish corporate events for a select few would be better spent on ensuring adequate staffing levels and resources in stores.

For the June 2018 ballot which removed the blocking agreement between Boots and the BPA, the number of eligible voters was 6,890 and so the 40% target was equal to 2,756. If less than that had voted “Yes” then it would have been lost.  Even though the majority share of votes was overwhelmingly for Yes, in percentage terms this was quite close to the 40% requirement on that occasion. The 2,826 votes for Yes equated to just 41.04% of those entitled to vote.  That means had just 71 Yes voters not participated, we would have lost.  And that is why every vote matters.

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary of the PDA Union reiterated why everyone should vote: “Voting is your hard-earned right and if you want an independent voice at work, you cannot take the risk of assuming others will make it happen.  The outcome of the ballot in February will depend on the actions of every individual who is entitled to cast a vote.  To ensure your vote counts I’d encourage all pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists to complete and return their ballot papers as soon as they are received.”

The ballot period is scheduled to start on 4th February 2019 and will run for five weeks.   Pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists at grade 5, 6 & 7 in stores will be entitled to vote.  Ballot Papers are likely to be posted to eligible voters no later than 15th February.

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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