PDA Union continues recognition campaign in Northern Ireland

The PDA Union has continued to work closely with GP pharmacist employers in Northern Ireland to achieve a voluntary recognition agreement that will enable members' terms and conditions to be the subject of collective bargaining.

Tue 21st July 2020 The PDA

The PDA Union has continued to work closely with the Eastern Federation Support Unit (FSU) in Northern Ireland to achieve a voluntary recognition agreement that will enable members’ terms and conditions to be the subject of collective bargaining. The most immediate impact of any such agreement will be that we will be in a position to negotiate members’ pay increase each year. Members will be able to elect a small team of their own representatives drawn from colleagues working for one of the 17 organisations. Constituencies are yet to be agreed but it is expected up to 5 union representative positions covering the 17 organisations will be created. The PDA Union will ensure reps are trained and able to play the key role of representing members on workplace issues.

The 17 organisations have been established by GPs as not for profit organisations with the aim of reinvesting any surplus in frontline services.  Paul Moloney, PDA Union National Officer said “This is exactly the type of employer we would want to work in partnership with. Clearly, we can share our expertise in all employment matters in a way that we believe will benefit employers and our members and act as a useful resource in terms of professional training“.

“There is still work to be done to secure the agreement. Effectively, it needs 17 separate organisations to agree and we are mindful of the complexities involved, but we are optimistic an agreement can be reached” added Paul.

In the meantime, the PDA Union is aware following contact from members, that a pay increase has been made this year. Although not employed on NHS terms and conditions, an increase in line with the increases paid to NHS employers in Northern Ireland has been awarded. As a result of this increase, members will have seen their pay rise by between 9.9% and 12% in little over a year. This of course is a good news story but has been made more complex than necessary as a result of concern about the amount of backpay due to members as the pay increase is effectively backdated to April 2019.

Paul Moloney, who worked previously as part of the small team negotiating the NHS pay deal during 2017 and 2018 which led to the three year deal with increases in 2018, 2019, and 2020 that has been replicated by the FSU, explains:

“The pay deal in Northern Ireland had been held up because the Assembly had been suspended and there was no health minister in post to sign off the significant increases due. With the Assembly now functioning, Northern Ireland has been catching up ever since, and for NHS employees stages two and three of the deal, pay increases that should have been paid in April 2019 and April 2020, have been paid together with appropriate backdating”.

This has been replicated for members working in the Federations with pay due from April 2019 paid in full as back pay with the new, further enhance rates due from April 2020, paid in full from July with appropriate back pay to April.

This does mean that members may have difficulty working out if their backpay is correct. Any member who feels there has been an error should request a breakdown from their employer on how their back pay has been calculated. If this does not resolve the issue then members should formally raise the matter in line with their employers procedures. Where there have been underpayments that are disputed by the employer and have not been resolved using the grievance procedures, the PDA Union will look at any potential unlawful deduction of wages claim.

Paul Moloney added “This is a complicated deal not helped by the unavoidable delay in implementation as a result of the Northern Ireland Assembly suspension but we are confident that implementation by the FSU is in line with the wider implementation across the NHS in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the complexity of the deal does mean mistakes can be made but we are confident these will be rectified without the need for the PDA Union to formally raise issues. We will however be monitoring the situation”.

Members will be advised of progress of the recognition campaign and if for any reason the approach being taken by the PDA Union does not result in an agreement, the union will use the statutory provisions available to ensure members’ legal right to be represented by the PDA Union are not ignored.

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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