Boots ballot isn’t about the future of pharmacy, it’s about making sure pharmacists are properly listened to and treated better at work

Pharmacists at Boots are just five weeks away from being able to secure an independent voice at work after more than seven years of legal processes and their trade union, the PDAU, want everyone eligible to vote in the coming ballot to take part.

Fri 4th January 2019 PDA Union

Pharmacists formed the PDA Union in 2008 and within a few years the union began seeking recognition at the largest community pharmacy multiple in order to ensure the views of pharmacists, their ideas and their concerns would be heard.  The wishes of thousands of Boots pharmacists have been consistently resisted by the company’s senior management and last year a ballot of pharmacists at the company voted by 87% in favour, with only 13% against, to clear the final barrier to the PDA Union’s recognition claim.  Recognition now depends on the result of a postal ballot of pharmacists to be held from 4 February – 8 March 2019

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary at the PDA Union says: “As an independent trade union we can already help people once things have reached the stage of conflict. Although Boots pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists form around 10% of our members, the way they are treated is disproportionately represented in our casework. Every day the PDA Union advisory team are helping Boots pharmacists and pre-registrations pharmacists with workplace issues.

If we gain formal recognition, we can do much more than fix things when situations have gone wrong; we can do more to prevent things going wrong in the first place and improve things that could be better.  As pharmacists we all know that prevention is better than cure”

The PDA Union is the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists and has quickly become one of the UK’s largest trade unions.  It now has over 28,000 members across the UK, that’s more members than the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and this includes over 2,500 employees at Boots and many more locums providing services there too.

If the pharmacists secure a “YES” vote of more than 40%, of those eligible to vote, in favour of recognition then the management will have to properly listen to pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists. Then Boots employed union representatives chosen by their Boots colleagues, will negotiate on matters relating to pay, hours and other working conditions and be able to raise matters of concern about health and safety through a network of specially trained safety representatives. Pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists at Boots will be able to secure independent trade union

Mark Pitt concluded: “It shouldn’t be too much to ask a management to listen to the professionals they employ. Pharmacists want a safe and healthy working environment, decent pay and reward, fairness and job security.  We’ve been working towards this for years and we will achieve it.

Although there are lots of challenges facing community pharmacy presently, this ballot isn’t about the future of pharmacy, it’s about making sure pharmacists are properly listened to and treated better at work whatever the future may bring.

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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