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Pharmacists invite Boots to start new chapter in employee relations

John Murphy, General Secretary of the PDA Union has written to Boots head Seb James, inviting him to create a new, positive chapter in employee relations at the company.

Mon 11th March 2019 PDA Union

John Murphy, General Secretary of the PDA Union has written to Boots head Seb James, inviting him to create a new, positive chapter in employee relations at the company.

Store-based pharmacists have voted for the PDA Union to be recognised at Boots after an eight-year battle between the management and pharmacists which has made employment law history, however Mr Murphy is hoping things can get much better.

See the Boots ballot results here

John Murphy said: “Mr James is relatively new to Boots himself and I hope that he will agree with his pharmacists that the time has come for a more positive approach to employee relations at the company.

The text of Mr Murphy’s letter is here:

Mr Sebastian James

Senior Vice President, Walgreens Boots Alliance

President & Managing Director of Boots UK

Nottingham NG2 3AA


Dear Mr James,

I am writing to you directly on behalf of your pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists, following the second ballot in which they have made clear their wishes that employee relations need to be improved at Boots UK.  We would like to invite you to work with us to start a new positive chapter of employee relations.  A constructive relationship with this important group of healthcare professionals can add value to them, to patients and to the company.

Boots have expended significant time, effort and money over 8 years to try and prevent this group having an independent voice at work, but through the relevant processes, pharmacists have finally had their say and this can no longer be resisted.  There is no doubt in my mind that the conduct of your senior managers on this issue has damaged the reputation of the company and the relationship between employees and employer.

We now have an opportunity to put all that in the past and create a working environment in which pharmacists feel appropriately valued and respected, patients can consistently receive excellent care and the company can prosper.  I hope you share the view that it is possible to redirect the company’s energies into something far more positive.

We know that there are significant challenges for community pharmacy and any response to these should be developed in conjunction with pharmacists, not done to them.  We want to work with the company to ensure it continues to be a long-term success for the benefit of all.

Now that the ballot result is confirmed it is up to both sides to agree a detailed way in which we can work together.  I am asking you to direct your negotiators to enter those discussions constructively and in the spirit of our joint opportunity to make Boots even better.

I noted during the ballot period that you had personally committed to meet with the representatives of store pharmacists multiple times each year, to fully fund representatives time from away from normal duties to undertake those roles and to run an effective employee relations structure which implemented agreed points and had a scope well beyond just hours, pay and holiday.

While this was announced as relating to the “BJNC” which your senior management had proposed during the ballot period, I sincerely hope you will nevertheless honour that commitment in the structures which your pharmacists have overwhelmingly chosen, namely the formal recognition of the PDA Union.

I look forward to your reply and I hope to the start of a positive working relationship between our organisations.

Yours sincerely



John Murphy,

General Secretary, PDA Union


Mr Murphy concluded: “I think the PDAU have demonstrated we are committed to looking after our members’ interests.  We look forward to a new era in Boots, working in ways that lead to win-win outcomes”

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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