Boots pharmacists launch historic attempt to secure an independent voice at work

With the full backing of the PDA Union, a group of pharmacists employed by Boots have today commenced a legal challenge to secure an independent voice at work. This is the latest development in a long-running campaign by pharmacists to overcome Boots’ attempts to deny them their rights to negotiate over their working conditions through a union of their choice.

Fri 28th July 2017 PDA Union

Derecognition of the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA)

With the full backing of the PDA Union, a group of pharmacists employed by Boots Management Services Ltd (Boots) have today commenced a legal challenge to secure an independent voice at work. This is the latest development in a long-running campaign by pharmacists to overcome Boots’ attempts to deny them their rights to negotiate over their working conditions through a union of their choice.

Over the last 5 years, Boots has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent pharmacists having an independent voice at work. Currently, Boots pharmacists are blocked from being able to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment via their union, due to an “agreement” between Boots and the BPA. Today a court application has been made to derecognise the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA) which is the only route left open to secure these rights under the current legislation. This application is truly historic and ground breaking under trade union law.

John Murphy, General Secretary of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union said: “It is unfathomable that Boots is so determined to deny an independent voice to the thousands of pharmacists that it employs. The company has systematically challenged the PDAU in the courts to prevent our members and Boots pharmacists securing collective bargaining rights for better terms and conditions at work.

The individuals taking this action are representative of many thousands of Boots pharmacists who have been frustrated by their employer’s actions. We are delighted to be able to support their case and have been asked to speak on their behalf.”

Boots is the most well-known high street pharmacy and the “face” of the sector for the public. The company’s actions have included signing an agreement with the BPA, an organisation which was deemed liable to interference from Boots and refused a certificate of independence by the government’s Certification Officer.i This agreement specifically prohibits any negotiations over key areas for pharmacists, such as working conditions; this arrangement was specifically created to block the ability of the PDAU to collectively bargain on behalf of Boots pharmacists.

The Court of Appeal recently concluded that the only way this barrier can be removed is if the agreement is either voluntarily cancelled or by pharmacists forcing the situation by securing support amongst their ranks.

The latest action commenced by these pharmacists will lead to a secret ballot of all Boots-employed pharmacists and pre-registration graduates below Area Manager level. A successful result will dissolve the agreement and leave the way clear for a second ballot to decide whether Boots will have to recognise the PDA Union.

John continued: “Pharmacists at Boots deserve to be treated fairly and with respect at work. They should have job security, fair reward and a good working environment. They want to be able to put patient safety and professional standards first, as autonomous healthcare professionals. The PDA Union, as an independent trade union, seeks an agreement with Boots to allow us to negotiate formally on behalf of Boots pharmacists to enhance and secure our members’ working conditions.

We want to work with Boots to ensure those things become a reality for all its pharmacists. I think any sensible person would have to ask why the senior management of Boots opposes that? Just what are they afraid of?”

He concluded: “Either Boots or the leadership of the BPA could voluntarily terminate their agreement at any time, but instead they are continuing to use it as a mechanism to block pharmacists securing the independent representation they want, via the full recognition of the PDA Union.

We will never give up fighting for and supporting our members.”

 

i Refusal of certificate of independence for BPA: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/certificate-of-independence-decision-boots-pharmacists-association-bpa

 

Find out more – visit pdaurecognition.co.uk

 

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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