Latest on pharmacist union recognition at LloydsPharmacy

At the request of members, the PDA Union has submitted a statutory application for recognition to secure an independent voice at work for pharmacists at LloydsPharmacy (Lloyds). In a recent communication to pharmacists the company management claimed to be surprised by this action, so the union is reiterating how we reached this point while also giving an update on latest developments.

Mon 3rd August 2020 PDA Union

The calls from Lloyds pharmacists for their union to seek formal recognition at the company multiplied when the management leadership team decided to announce in July that they planned changes to employment contracts, store closures or sales and a reduction in the size of the store and head office support that pharmacists rely upon to practice, a so-called “transformation and harmonisation programme”. However, the request for an independent voice at work for pharmacists has a much longer history.

There was initially dialogue between the PDA Union and Lloyds management about the possibility of trade union recognition as far back as 2012. At the time Lloyds wanted to undertake their restructure to form Celesio UK, before agreeing a way forward with the pharmacists’ union. Today it is a different management-initiated change programme that the company say is the reason to delay giving their employees an independent voice at work, but pharmacists are no longer prepared to wait.

Kevin Birch, Chief Retail Officer at McKesson UK, was previously a key part of the senior Boots leadership team that tried to stop pharmacists there from securing union recognition. Some of the tactics used by Boots to try and frustrate union recognition were later mentioned by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the government body that oversees trade union recognition, who said that Boots “had been disingenuous as the Employer had deliberately misled the [PDA] Union in order to buy time to conclude arrangements with the BPA recorded in the Agreement.


What can union recognition deliver

Although Boots pharmacists eventually overcame the attempts by company management to block recognition, this did postpone further action by the PDA Union at Lloyds until recognition was secured in 2019 at the largest community pharmacy employer. Since then the PDAU team have been simultaneously developing the relationship at Boots and progressing the discussions with Lloyds. At Boots, the benefits of union recognition for pharmacists are already clearly visible, such as:

Although the previous leadership at Boots blocked pharmacists from having an independent voice at work for several years, the current management have described the working relationship as “…productive, two-way conversation with feedback provided through Divisional and Regional Trade Union Representatives”.  This is the kind of positive engagement that pharmacists at Lloyds also want to achieve in their workplace to create win-win situations where issues can be resolved locally, early and without dispute, wherever possible.


What next at Lloyds

The union is now proceeding with the statutory application process and has been directed to provide a confidential list of PDA members at Lloyds to the CAC, so this can be independently compared against a confidential list of pharmacist employees provided by Lloyds. The CAC will use the comparison to calculate the PDAU membership density without disclosing any details to either party. The data will then be securely destroyed after this exercise has been completed.

In the meantime, whilst talking to PDAU members at Lloyds the PDA have been told that some pharmacists may be being incorrectly advised that they cannot raise concerns about their employment with their union.

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary at the PDA Union said  “Employees are at liberty to discuss matters relating to their employment with an independent trade union of which they are a member and it is simply wrong to tell them otherwise. 

Although we are not yet recognised, under employment law, as a certified independent trade union the PDAU can provide advice and support to our members at any time and can represent members in grievance and disciplinary meetings as well as through other formal processes.  We encourage any of our members with specific concerns to contact us by telephone or email.

The PDA is also receiving more contact from other members of the pharmacy team concerned about the management’s “transformation and harmonisation programme” and although we exclusively represent pharmacists, we reiterate our previous suggestion that such colleagues join the leading trade union for retail workers, Usdaw.

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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