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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA members participate in the Annual Congress of the STUC

PDA members participate in the Annual Congress of the STUC

A delegation of Scotland based PDA Members and Staff attended the 126th annual congress of the STUC in Dundee's impressive Caird Hall.

Wed 3rd May 2023 The PDA

The congress resulted in a busy few days for the PDA delegation, more than 100 motions were debated and voted on, fringe events were attended, speeches were made and one PDA member received an award from the First Minister of Scotland.

The main business of congress is to debate proposals from the 40 STUC affiliated trade unions and Scotland’s 20 regional trades councils, turning those requests and motions into the accepted policy of the trade union movement in Scotland. Each union is entitled to move a maximum of three motions and this year the PDA took the opportunity to utilise all opportunities to try to improve the working lives and impact of pharmacists in order to benefit Scottish society. PDA motions are based on the experience and expertise of pharmacists.

PDA delegate Urvi Vora, a locum pharmacist with experience of community pharmacy and the NHS, along with the STUC Black workers committee, called for greater application of antiracist efforts in Scotland’s workplaces to finally level the playing field for ethnic minority pharmacists, ending race-based inequality and discrimination at all levels. Speaking about her experiences at congress Urvi said, “It has honestly been such an honour to represent the PDA, for the opportunity to speak on something that is very close to my heart, it’s been humbling to see how many people are working hard for us to have fair and equal rights, great to meet people who share similar values. Definitely, a conference that will stay with me for a long time and has made me really think about how and what I represent as a pharmacist.”

Supported by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) Maurice Hickey, PDA Scotland Head of Policy, presented the PDA’s call for wider recognition of and greater efforts to address the inclusivity of university curricula. His speech included some shocking statistics showing the stark differences in outcomes created by current professional training.

Finally, Maurice Hickey, who has worked in drug harm reduction in some aspect for some 40+ years stood again and made an impassioned call for the STUC to demand that the next government in Westminster should devolve to Scotland the right to legislate its own drug policy free from interference. The PDA brought this motion to help tackle Scotland’s position as Europe’s worst nation for drug related deaths. Pharmacists daily witness the damage that the ‘war on drugs’ and ‘zero tolerance’ approaches perpetuate. The PDA hope to pave the way for radical policy reform in Scotland and the UK and to remove the inertia that currently condemns thousands to an early and needless death.

The motion, and Maurice’s supporting speech was reported by the National newspaper and their article can be read here.

PDA award winner

PDA Representative Soh Xi Ken was incredibly grateful and surprised to receive the STUC Equality Award from Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf. In May 2021, Xi Ken became a founding member of the PDA LGBT+ Network and was elected as their first Honorary Secretary. Ken’s dedicated and tireless activism is clearly evident throughout the PDA archives and his work saw him selected from a host of other representatives from across the trade union movement in Scotland to receive the award.

Ken said, “It’s a great privilege to have received the STUC Equality Award with all praise and gratitude going to my colleagues within the Pharmacists Defence Association.

“It has been an honour to fight for LGBT+ rights within the pharmacy sector. When we all come together, trade unionists can make real changes in workplaces, industries and in communities.

“That’s precisely why I’m a proud member of the PDA. We’re seeking to root out discrimination in all its forms within the sector, leaving no stone unturned in our collective fight for fairness and equality throughout the Scotland’s pharmacies.”

Ken pictured with his STUC Equality Award

Guest Speakers

Congress was also addressed by fellow Union organisation leaders and politicians. Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister chose to make his first official public address outside of parliament since being elected Scotland’s leader. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the UK Labour party and a former trade union official reaffirmed her party’s commitment and her personal links to the trade union movement. Anas Sarwar, the Leader of Scottish Labour, also spoke of his expectation that his party would likewise support all workers in exercising their right to strike for better pay, terms, working environment and conditions.


Pictured speaking at the STUC Congress event: First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf MSP; TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak, PDA Scotland Head of Policy Maurice Hickey, PDA member Urvi Vora and Deputy leader of UK Labour Party, Angela Rayner MP


The PDA’s motions all met with unanimous support from conference and therefore passed smoothly to become STUC policy, however some motions did create more discussion. It was refreshing to see all debate on all topics undertaken in a rational, respectful and convivial manner with only three motions across the whole event requiring a card vote rather than just a show of hands to ensure that all the votes were tallied accurately.

PDA delegate Vicky Logan, a primary care pharmacist working in the NHS said on her return to work “I had a great time in Dundee and I’m very inspired. I’ve not stopped talking about the PDA and the experience of congress to my colleagues this morning.”

Members of the PDA delegation at the event

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