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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA asks members to confirm their strength of feeling about possible strike action over NHS pay

PDA asks members to confirm their strength of feeling about possible strike action over NHS pay

The PDA is undertaking an additional survey of pharmacists employed in the NHS, before deciding if they will hold their first ever ballot for industrial action.

Mon 19th December 2022 The PDA

The PDA has more than 7,000 NHS-employed pharmacists in membership and the union is actively considering balloting those members regarding strike action. However, the experience of some other unions has shown that the government’s restrictive rules, designed to make it difficult for working people to lawfully take industrial action, means trade unions should test members’ strength of feeling before balloting.

Unlike almost every other part of modern society, the law relating to trade union ballots only allows postal voting. The government refuses to allow an electronic voting option, which is widely recognised as one way that would increase participation. Electronic voting would also be less expensive and better for the environment.

Trade unions are not only forced to rely upon postal ballots, but for lawful industrial action to be taken, the result must also meet three tests:

  1. At least 50% of eligible voters must vote.
  2. At least 40% of eligible voters must vote ‘yes’.
  3. A majority of votes must be for ‘yes’.

It should be highlighted that if the 50% turnout test were applied to political parties, many current politicians would not be in their roles. For example, the English local council elections in May 2022 had a turnout of less than 34%, and the latest parliamentary by-election, in Stretford and Urmston, had a turnout of less than 26%. However, the law continues to place this 50% minimum turnout demand upon trade union members deciding to exercise their right to withdraw their labour.

The result of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) ballot in England is a prime example of how impactful this law can be. Despite the fact that more than 10,000 RCM members voted for industrial action (88% of those who voted), the ballot was unsuccessful because the ballot turnout was only 47% of eligible members.

Although some other unions, such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and UNISON have been able to pass all three tests in some Trusts and have proceeded to industrial action, they too have fallen short of the turnout threshold at many NHS employers.

The Society of Radiographers held an indicative survey of their members in October, and although more than 90% of those that responded wanted strike action, the SoR concluded that their member turnout in the consultation was not high enough to proceed to a formal ballot for strike action. To read more, click here.

A PDA survey in the summer also resulted in a majority of those voting rejecting the pay settlement and wanting industrial action, but, like the SoR experience, the turnout in that survey was not high enough to proceed to a formal ballot for strike action. However, the general situation has evolved with strong public support for those who are taking strike action in the NHS. The PDA is therefore  asking members in England, Northern Ireland and Wales who are employed on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, to show if their collective wish, in significant enough strength, is for strike action. The survey has been emailed direct to all PDA members in the NHS in the three nations and will close on Tuesday 3 January.

The result of the survey will direct the decision of the union over balloting, so all members employed at the NHS are asked to read the accompanying communication and respond to the survey.

PDA Union National Officer, Paul Moloney said, “Whether they want to take industrial action, do not want to take action, or are unsure, our ask for members in the NHS is to complete the survey and let us know.

“If there is a subsequent ballot, it is essential that all records of where members are employed are up to date, so PDA members are also requested to access ‘MyPDA’ to check and, if necessary, update their membership record here.”

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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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