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Pharmacy teams encouraged to join trade unions as health and safety at work issues become higher profile

As health and safety risks in pharmacies increase due to the relaxation of the COVID19 lockdown in England, and employees may need to challenge the safety of their workplaces, the PDA are recommending all members of the pharmacy team join a trade union in order to have an independent, expert voice at work.

Tue 12th May 2020 The PDA

Trade unions undertake a unique role representing the interests of workers and standing up for the individual against the power of employers, governments and others.  Health & Safety, equality, reward, employment rights and fairness are just some of the areas where trade unions make a difference.  Whether or not your employer has a “recognition agreement” with a particular independent trade union, your union can still advise and support you and provide representation for you in processes such as grievances and disciplinary hearings.

PDA are pharmacists

The PDA Union is the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists and the largest pharmacist membership organisation in the UK.  Our independence form the control of employers is certified by the regulator of trade unions and that status enables us to stand up to employers, and to others, on behalf of our members.

We are set up, governed and funded by pharmacists and therefore our activities are totally focused on their interests and needs.  Though we represent only pharmacists and those qualifying to join the profession, we of course still care passionately about the rest of the pharmacy team who are often not only colleagues but also the friends and family of pharmacists.  We want those other members of the pharmacy team to also have the representation they need at work.

Many issues we raise on behalf of pharmacists, for example stopping violence and making pharmacy practice safer also benefit the whole team.  We also challenged the exclusion of community pharmacy from England’s COVID19 Compensation scheme and the response from the Health & Social Care Secretary confirmed that the community pharmacy team are included.

We recognise that while we listen to, and speak for, our 31,000+ members, it is not for us represent the other members of the pharmacy team. The PDA recommend that each member of the team join an appropriate independent trade union for their role  so that they too have a similar organisation championing their interests.

What unions represent other members of the team?

Most health professions have a specialist trade union.  Pharmacists have the PDA, just as dieticians have the British Dietetic Association (BDA), radiographers have the Society of Radiographers (SoR), etc. There are also trade unions suitable for every working person.

The leading trade union for shop workers is called USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) and we suggest non-pharmacist community pharmacy staff may want to join USDAW.

In hospitals and other exclusively health workplaces, a more appropriate choice for non-pharmacists may be UNISON, who are Britain’s largest trade union with 1.4 Million members providing public services;


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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