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PDA attends STUC Annual Congress

The PDA recently attended its first Scottish Trade Unions (STUC) Congress and presented its first-ever motion to the assembled delegates. The motion supports community pharmacists in having a greater say in how they work for their patients.

Sun 8th May 2022 The PDA

Once a year the STUC affiliated unions in Scotland meet to decide the policy of the organisation for the coming year. The 125th STUC Annual Congress occurred from 25 to 27 of April 2022 in Aberdeen and brought together forty unions and twenty trades councils under the tagline ‘Proud of our Past, organising for our future’.

The PDA’s delegation representing pharmacists across Scotland were PDA National Officer for Scotland, Paul Flynn, PDA Head of Policy for Scotland, Maurice Hickey, Primary Care Pharmacist, Farzana Haq, Community Pharmacist, Kyra Jones and Honorary Secretary of the PDA LGBT+ Network and pharmacy student Soh Xi Ken.

The PDA is an independent trade union that became affiliated with the STUC in 2021. The STUC’s 125th Annual Congress was the PDA’s earliest opportunity to submit its first motion titled ‘The voice of community pharmacist workers’. Paul Flynn presented the PDA’s motion to the assembled delegates.

The motion presented to congress states, Community pharmacy was excluded from scope at the creation of the NHS. Privately-owned community pharmacy businesses provide a critical part of Scotland’s health system, providing access to qualified health professionals in our communities.

The importance of community pharmacies is reinforced as the NHS increasingly directs patients to their local pharmacy, to see a pharmacist and access medicines and/or services, normally without an appointment. This has endured through even the worst times of the Covid-19 pandemic

While these pharmacies display the NHS logo, they are nevertheless run for profit by companies and exist to generate shareholder dividends. The largest chains are UK wide and in often part of multinational corporations.

Many pharmacists are self-employed locums and do not have an “employer”.

The interests and views of employed and locum pharmacists and other workers in the community pharmacy sector will deviate from the interests and views of the employers. The voice of the workers needs to be heard independently to the voice of business owners in this sector.

The Scottish government meets frequently with community pharmacy employer bodies, referred to as “Team Pharmacy”, whilst there has been significantly less engagement with trade unions representing the community pharmacy workforce.


Recognises that those representing the interests of private business owners may reasonably seek increased investment in, and cash flow for, their businesses, and negotiate improved terms and other amendments to their contracts with government.

Believes that these entities cannot legitimately claim to represent the rights and interests of the workforce they employ or engage.

Calls upon the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care to ensure an effective dialogue with the trade unions representing employed and locum pharmacists and other employees in the community pharmacy sector in line with the Fair Work Framework.”

Once the motion was presented and seconded all assembled delegates voted and the motion was carried unanimously meaning that it now becomes the policy of the STUC.

Delegates from the PDA also made contributions to other motions presented to the STUC. Notably Soh Xi Ken spoke powerfully in support of a motion regarding trans rights and education. Jenny Douglas of the STUC LGBT workers committee said in response to Soh Xi Ken’s speech, “Fantastic contribution, it was a pleasure to meet you, hope that you will become involved in our committees. You are a star & will be a leading light in the fight for equality. Good luck with your exams!”

Maurice Hickey seconded a motion by the shopworker’s union USDAW calling for greater protection of retail workers, highlighting issues of workplace-based violence and aggression experienced in Scottish pharmacies.

Just as pharmacists achieve more by being united through the PDA, the collective effort of all STUC affiliated unions working together through congress is far greater than that of their individual parts. Congress now being aware of and supporting the interests of pharmacists is one more way in which the PDA is helping create positive change for the profession.

Farzana Haq said, “It was nice to be around so many like-minded delegates who had similar views to my own when it comes to social issues I feel passionately about. There were stimulating debates and a couple of very emotional motions which hit home for me about the plight of women in Afghanistan and the rights of Palestinians. Overall attending the STUC congress was an enjoyable experience and helped me to understand the function of the STUC and its general council better. I was proud to be there representing the PDA.”

Soh Xi Ken said, “The 125th STUC Congress was a great experience, it was very educational and inspiring, being surrounded by trade unionists and activists. I had an opportunity to represent the PDA on moving a motion for more Trans education and rights, and the response was positive. I hope the PDA will continue to engage with the STUC and wider trade union movement, as it will greatly benefit many of our members and vice versa.”

Paul Flynn said, “It has been an honour to represent pharmacists who give so much care and support to the communities they serve at this worker’s gathering. It’s the first-time pharmacists have had a dedicated voice highlighting issues affecting them to the assembled Scottish trade union movement. Our delegation has been overwhelmed by the warm and supportive welcome we have received from delegates representing so many different areas of employment and diverse groups of workers and I look forward to the things we will achieve together for pharmacists and society in general.”

PDA members in Scotland who want to get more involved in the work of the PDA by becoming a PDA Workplace Representative can learn more here. Alternatively, PDA members who wish to attend or find out more about any of the events organised by the STUC can contact Paul Flynn by emailing

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