Boots Pharmacists: Why recognise a trade union?

Doctors have the BMA, Physiotherapists the CSP, Nurses the RCN, Midwives the RCM and so on across the sector. Since 2008, Pharmacists have had the PDA Union standing up for their rights too.

Sun 20th January 2019 PDA Union

A union consists of members, the members are the union.  For many years other Health professionals have had their specific trade unions standing up for them as individuals and as a profession.  Doctors have the BMA, Physiotherapists the CSP, Nurses the RCN, Midwives the RCM and so on across the sector.  Since 2008, Pharmacists have had the PDA Union standing up for their rights too.

All of these unions have what is called a “Certificate of Independence” issued by the regulator of trade unions, the Certification Officer, confirming they are not under the influence of an employer nor can an employer interfere in their affairs.  The union members decide what a union does, not the employers.

As an independent trade union, PDA Union can already help our members in formal processes, such as disciplinary or grievance meetings as individuals or in groups and we are proud of our record of success.  But we want to do much more.

The PDA Union is proud to work alongside other healthcare trade unions on matters relating to our sector, and also with the wider trade union movement on matters of mutual interest relating to employment law and regulations.  It is through trade unions working together that law relating to your employment has been established.  For example, unions are part of the social partnership in Europe that created regulations to stop discrimination against part-time workers and agreed working time regulations ensuring you are entitled to breaks.  Unions also work with the UK government to create regulations such as the minimum wage.

Trade unions create case law by taking ground breaking legal cases. For example UNISON challenged the government and overturned the unfair fees they had demanded from applicants to employment tribunals, GMB are currently taking cases relating to Uber Drivers and others in the “gig economy” which may have implications for locums and even the PDA Union members voting to remove the non- independent “sweetheart” BPA was a legal first which will help employees in similar situations in future.

Those are just some of the ways Trade Unions benefit you in work, and though individual representation is for members only, improved entitlements and conditions benefits you whether or not you are contributing to the unions efforts through making a membership contribution.  Clearly the more members a union has in a company, the greater the influence it has with the employer.

Members of recognised unions also negotiate pay and conditions direct with employers, which means taking terms and conditions beyond legal minimums and that is what the PDA Union is seeking to secure at Boots.  Improved conditions, policies and practices which are negotiated by the union will be applied to employees whether or not they are union members too.  This is what the ballot in February 2018 is about.  So if you work at Boots please vote “YES” in this ballot, you don’t need to be a PDA Union member to vote. But if you want to join us too, here’s how.

With over 28,000 members we can contribute to discussions with employers, with regulators and others and offer the perspective and experience of pharmacists across the UK.  That wider knowledge and perspective underpinned by our independence means we can stand up to any employer on behalf of Pharmacists.

We also work together with other trade unions representing pharmacists across Europe and we are the UK member of the European Association of Employed community Pharmacists in Europe (EPhEU).  Together we share knowledge and practice, and learn from each other, to address those issues that are common across nations and to stand up to any employer who works internationally too.  But to do that most effectively we need to be recognised by such employers here in the UK, again that is what the ballot is about and to help us help you, we need Pharmacists and pre-registration trainees at Boots to vote YES in the ballot.

The ballot period at Boots is scheduled to start on 4th February 2019 and will run for five weeks.  Approximately 7,000 Pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists at grade 5, 6 & 7 in stores will be entitled to vote and if 40% or more vote for PDA Union to be recognised the senior management will have to agree a recognition agreement.  Boots is the first employer which the PDA Union are taking through the legal process to secure recognition, but the aim is to secure recognition wherever their members work.

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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