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Home  »   Latest NewsPDA Students   »   The GFTU’s Young Members Development Weekend and the importance of unions

The GFTU’s Young Members Development Weekend and the importance of unions

PDA Student Rep, Leah Wakefield-Coates recently attended the General Federation of Trade Union’s (GFTU) Young Members Development Weekend and has reflected on her experience and what she learned during the weekend.

Mon 27th November 2023 The PDA

This November, myself and two other pharmacy students were fortunate enough to attend this year’s GFTU Young Members Development Weekend at the Quorn Grange Hotel in Loughborough. The weekend provided me with a great insight into how unions work, why they’re important, and what I can do to support my union.

Trade unions have played a pivotal role in shaping the modern workforce and championing the rights of workers. The significance of trade unions cannot be overstated, as they serve as powerful advocates for workers, creating equitable workplace conditions and contributing to the overall well-being of employees.

As the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists in the UK, the breadth of PDA activity is amazing. The PDA is engaged in conversations around building an anti-racist pharmacy sector, work satisfaction for GP pharmacists, helping locum members with unpaid fees, career support, opportunities to network, negotiating on pay, and so much more. There is something that matters to every member.

The weekend also allowed me to spend time with other young people who have the same values as I do and helped us to come together to encourage each other to fight for workers’ rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions, among many other things. The weekend consisted of several different workshops which have helped me to improve how I reach out to fellow pharmacy students and taught me how I can utilise simple tools, such as social media, and use them to make a difference.

During the weekend, we also were given the opportunity to listen to people’s stories of unity. One talk that stood out to me was by Bianca Todd, a representative of the Ron Todd Foundation, a non-profit organisation that seeks to help any trade union member during times of hardship by providing food and shelter to those who need it. Bianca established this organisation in memory of her late father Ron Todd and showed us how just being a good person can make all the difference to so many lives.

Delegates at the 2023 GFTU Young Members Development Weekend

Why pharmacy students should join the PDA

As a student, you may be wondering what the PDA can do for you. I have wondered about this in the past and was not sure how my union could support me. This weekend opened my eyes to the role of a union and the reality that you never know what might happen in life. The PDA is there to help with issues in the workplace, unfair procedures in University, or even just to give you advice on suitable next steps. The PDA supports members to campaign on issues that matter to them, provide opportunities to develop our skills, and make sure we’re prepared for important steps in our career like the GPhC/PSNI assessment or our first day as a trainee.

The PDA is free to all pharmacy students and trainee pharmacists, so why not make the most of it? Wouldn’t you feel better going into every new situation knowing that someone has got your back? PDA membership is free to pharmacy students and you can join today by clicking here.

By PDA Student Rep and 4th year Cardiff University student, Leah Wakefield-Coates

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Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


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