Discussions with Alliance Boots re formal union recognition under way

PDA Union has formally applied to Alliance Boots for a recognition agreement. This is what we hope will be one of regular bulletins as to progress of our application

Mon 27th February 2012 PDA Union

The PDA Union made a formal application to Alliance Boots for Union recognition on 19th January 2012 as we indicated in our recent Insight publication.

This was the first step in a rigorous procedure that could lead all the way to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the statutory body responsible for settling disputes on union recognition.

Boots formally rejected our application for recognition on 10th February but expressed a willingness to talk. The PDA Union felt that the unequivocal rejection did not give any room for negotiation and therefore progressed to the next stage by making a formal request for the CAC to hear our case.

On 14th February Boots reiterated its request to talk and invited us to withdraw our application to the CAC until both sides had met and discussed the matter more fully. Without prejudicing its position the PDA Union executive decided to suspend the application pending talks with Alliance Boots.

CAC rules now allow 20 days for the discussions to take place unless an application for a further extension is supported by both parties. If a satisfactory conclusion is not reached within this (or any extended) period, the PDA Union will continue to pursue the  proper arbitration channels.


It is hoped that despite its initial rejection of PDA Union recognition the company is making a genuine attempt to reach an agreement by wishing to meet.

John Murphy, PDAU General Secretary said “We enter into these talks in good faith to reach a proper agreement on the understanding there is a genuine desire from the Company to address our application seriously. We are resolute in our quest for a recognition agreement because we believe this is what our 2,000 plus Alliance Boots members want.”

Regrettably the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA) has rejected our approach to discuss the possibility of joining forces with the PDA Union in a formal request.

In response to a letter from the PDA Union Peter Walker (BPA Chief Executive) wrote

“The culture of our two organisations, BPA and PDA, are now significantly different. It is primarily for this reason that the [overwhelming majority of the] Executive decided to reject your offer of talks. I have to say that the executive do view your approach to the Company as hostile – not from any fear perspective, on our part, but we believe that it is not in the long term interests of Boots Pharmacists”

The PDA Union’s view is that it is for Boots pharmacists themselves to decide what is in their best interests. If necessary a democratic vote may be required to fully understand the wishes of Alliance Boots pharmacists regarding who they wish to represent them.

If the application is successful the PDA Union will be able to act on behalf of its employee members in direct consultation and negotiations over terms and conditions. At present Alliance Boots considers its pharmacist employees to be part of the “stores’ team” rather than a separate unit, which means they do not currently have a formal mechanism for negotiating terms and conditions. Formal union recognition would also permit the PDA Union to protect its members’ rights more effectively.

The initial meeting with Boots is now planned for Friday 2nd March and members will be kept informed as discussions progress.

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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