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Independent voice at work another step closer for pharmacists at Boots

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) have formally accepted the application by the PDA Union to be recognised by Boots. This is the latest development in a lengthy process to secure negotiations over pay, hours and working conditions on behalf of pharmacists. The legal process continues.

Fri 17th August 2018 PDA Union

Mark Pitt, PDA Union Assistant General Secretary said: “87% of those who voted in the recent ballot supported removing the BPA arrangement, which had blocked pharmacists from securing negotiation rights over their pay and working conditions. Despite saying the company would respect the outcome of that ballot, the senior negotiating team at Boots, led by Andrew Caplan, are continuing to resist their employees’ demands for an independent voice at work.  The PDA Union has demonstrated over the last 7 years that we do not give up on our members and are committed to doing what is best for pharmacists by proceeding with this process.”

The next step in the legal process will be to confirm which pharmacists are in scope of the application. If this cannot be agreed between management and union, the CAC may have to decide who is in the ‘bargaining unit’.

The PDA Union believes all those pharmacists who voted to end the arrangement with the BPA should continue to have a voice. Since 2012 the company had an arrangement with the BPA which covered “All registered and pre-registration pharmacists at levels 5,6 and 7 who are employed by Boots Management Services Ltd” and the union believe all those individuals should continue to be included and benefit from PDA Union recognition in due course. However, senior managers insist on excluding some of these pharmacists, something which the PDA Union believes is wrong.

Once the bargaining unit is confirmed, a decision on granting recognition will be made. Boots continue to insist that a further ballot is needed and the c.7,000 pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists who, in June 2018, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the PDA Union’s position could need to vote a second time. For the pharmacists’ union to win they would need to secure a majority voting in favour AND for that majority to be 40% or more of those entitled to vote (around 2,800 pharmacists).

Mark concluded: “It’s disappointing to see that pharmacists can only secure independent union representation at Boots by overcoming legal obstacles repeatedly put in the way by the company. The employer has the option to reach a voluntary agreement with us at any time and demonstrate that it respects the wishes of its pharmacists.

Many people thought securing the necessary support in favour of derecognising an existing union arrangement was impossible and Boots pharmacists are the only group to have ever achieved this. The case has captured the interest of many observers, including Members of Parliament and employment legal experts who are now watching to see how the company responds.” 

Download the full CAC judgement here

thumbnail of TUR1_1062_2018 Acceptance Decision


About the PDA

About the PDA
The PDA (Pharmacists’ Defence Association) has more than 32,000 members and is the largest pharmacists’ membership organisation and the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists in the UK. The PDA represents the interests and defends the reputation of pharmacists throughout their career. PDA is a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Employed Pharmacists of the European Union (EPhEU) and the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC).

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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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