Boots lose legal argument – Pharmacists proceed to secret ballot

In the ongoing fight for pharmacists to secure an independent voice at work, Boots have failed to convince the courts to include senior management in the forthcoming ballot of pharmacists at the company. The next step should be the ballot itself. 

Mon 19th February 2018 PDA Union

A court hearing was necessary because neither Boots nor the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA) could produce any clear documentary evidence to show which employees are within the scope of their agreement.

The court judgement confirms who is covered by the Boots/BPA agreement and therefore which category of pharmacist will get a vote in the secret ballot to decide what should happen to that agreement. The agreement was introduced to prevent an independent trade union from obtaining formal recognition at the company.

The PDA Union, which represents over 2,400 pharmacists and pre-registration graduates at Boots, wants the agreement terminated to enable them to gain the formal recognition they need in order to negotiate pay, hours, holidays and other working conditions on behalf of Boots pharmacists.

The multi-billion-pound employer Boots, chose which witnesses they would call and the company was represented in court by one of the country’s top lawyers. According to the judgement, the evidence of Dr Matthew Blain, Boots’ Director of HR Operations “crumbled under cross examination” and he was unable to point to occasions or consultative machinery that supported the suggestion that senior managerial pharmacists and pharmacist directors were covered by the Boots/BPA agreement.

The full judgement can be found here.

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary at the PDA Union, said “The scope of the BPA/Boots agreement is about pharmacists who work mainly in patient facing roles and we are pleased the court accepted our interpretation of this document. The company’s attempt to also give a vote to very senior management and those who, while still registered pharmacists, work in other head office roles remote from pharmacy had the potential to influence the ballot and allow the status quo to continue; we welcome the court’s judgement as accurately reflecting the reality of who is covered by the existing agreement.

The ballot is NOT about the future of the BPA, nor about who can join the BPA or indeed anything else.  It is strictly confined to what should happen to the agreement that blocks the PDA Union from being able to negotiate as the independent voice at work for pharmacists.

He continued: “The PDA Union does not have a section for very senior pharmacists, but there are some PDA Union members working at Boots in head office roles.  We proudly support them with their work and professional issues and once a collective bargaining agreement is in place, we will be looking at the scope of which job roles could fall under that.”


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. 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. PDA and PDA Union have more than 27,000 members.

For press enquiries, please contact:

Shemaine Rose
Communications & Marketing Officer at the PDA
T: +44 (0)121 513 0950

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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