Boots update: where we are in the recognition process

An update to pharmacists employed at Boots: "Following on from the activity earlier this year to derecognise the Boots Pharmacy Association (BPA), we are contacting you to update you on where we are in the recognition process."

Thu 1st November 2018 PDA Union

As many of you may be aware, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has now decided that a secret postal ballot is to be held where certain categories of Boots employees will be eligible to vote on whether the PDA Union should be recognised for collective bargaining. If successful, all eligible employees will be able to negotiate their pay, hours and other working conditions supported by the PDA Union, as well as having a much more influential voice over matters impacting on health and safety at work, such as staffing levels and workload.

It is, therefore, incredibly important that all eligible pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists vote again in this next ballot, even if they voted in the first ballot to derecognise the BPA. Every vote matters and it’s important that you and your colleagues understand the choices you have and the impact of your vote for you and your colleagues, both now and in the future. So please look out for further information over the coming weeks and months.

Who will be eligible to vote?
All pre-registration pharmacists, store-based, relief pharmacists, and pharmacist store managers (excluding flagships) will get a vote. In recent negotiations (within the CAC process) Boots management attempted to prevent all pharmacist store managers and pre-registration pharmacists from being able to vote and therefore unable to benefit from PDA Union recognition, but fortunately the CAC accepted the union’s arguments at a recent hearing that this important group, comprising of around 1,500 individuals, should not be excluded.

What happens next?
The PDA Union is currently in discussions with Boots to determine the access methods the union will have to communicate with pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists. As we aim to clearly set out the object of the ballot and to seek support and opinions on the issues involved, to enable individuals to make well-informed choices. Once the access issue has been agreed, the CAC will appoint an independent person to scrutinise and oversee the ballot process and announce when the ballot will be held.

Recent company update from Andrew Caplan
During a recent company update, Mr Caplan stated “I genuinely believe it’s better for us to do [these] things directly and together, not through a third party who doesn’t have any particular stake in the future of Boots”.

The labelling of PDA Union as a third party is nothing more than a diversionary tactic which misrepresents the reality of how a recognition arrangement will operate within Boots. Currently, more than 2,500 Boots pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists are members of the PDA Union and it is these individuals, not a third party, who will create, inform and sustain the democratic structures that will negotiate with the company. Boots uses external consultants and expertise to support its employee agenda and the union negotiating committee will have access to similar expertise and resources through the PDA Union to ensure that there is balance to this relationship.

It’s worth remembering that 2,826 Boots employees, all of whom have a stake in the future of Boots, have already expressed support for the PDA Union’s recognition by voting for the derecognition of the BPA. The PDA Union has made it clear during informal discussions with senior managers that one of the founding principles for any collective agreement will be that the success of Boots is paramount to the well-being of everyone employed at the company, as business success will form the foundation for delivering improvements to pay and conditions. So rest assured that it will be the thousands of loyal and hardworking Boots pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists who will decide the negotiating strategy, and not a third party.

Charitable donation
During the last ballot process, the PDA Union offered to donate £1 to charity for every individual vote cast, which raised a fantastic £3,308. True to our word, this donation was not outcome specific and was paid regardless of whether the vote supported or rejected the PDA Union, and Boots employees chose Macmillan as the benefiting charity. During the next ballot, we pledge to repeat this charitable donation.

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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