A GROUP of pharmacists employed by multiple pharmacy group, Boots, has launched a legal challenge to secure an independent voice at work.
Backed by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU), this is the latest development in what the PDAU is calling “a long-running campaign by pharmacists to overcome Boots’ attempts to deny them their rights to negotiate over their working conditions through a union of their choice.”
According to the PDAU, over the last 5 years Boots has gone to “extraordinary lengths to prevent pharmacists having an independent voice at work,” as Boots pharmacists are blocked from being able to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment via their union due to an agreement between Boots and the Boots’ Pharmacists Association (BPA). The agreement also currently prevents the PDAU collectively bargaining for Boots’ pharmacists.
A recent Court of Appeal decision concluded that the only way for this barrier to be removed was if the agreement was either cancelled voluntarily, or if pharmacists themselves forced the change. A court application has now been made to derecognise the BPA, which says the PDAU, is the only route left open to secure these rights under the current legislation.
John Murphy, General Secretary of the PDAU, said: “It is unfathomable that Boots is so determined to deny an independent voice to the thousands of pharmacists that it employs. The company has systematically challenged the PDAU in the courts to prevent our members and Boots pharmacists securing collective bargaining rights for better terms and conditions at work.
“The individuals taking this action are representative of many thousands of Boots pharmacists who have been frustrated by their employer’s actions. We are delighted to be able to support their case and have been asked to speak on their behalf.
“Pharmacists at Boots deserve to be treated fairly and with respect at work. They should have job security, fair reward and a good working environment. They want to be able to put patient safety and professional standards first, as autonomous healthcare professionals. The PDA Union, as an independent trade union, seeks an agreement with Boots to allow us to negotiate formally on behalf of Boots pharmacists to enhance and secure our members’ working conditions.
“We want to work with Boots to ensure those things become a reality for all its pharmacists. I think any sensible person would have to ask why the senior management of Boots opposes that? Just what are they afraid of?
“Either Boots or the leadership of the BPA could voluntarily terminate their agreement at any time, but instead they are continuing to use it as a mechanism to block pharmacists securing the independent representation they want, via the full recognition of the PDA Union.
“We will never give up fighting for and supporting our members.”
A secret ballot of all Boots employed pharmacists and pre-registration graduates below Area Manager level will be held, and a successful result will dissolve the agreement, after which a second ballot will decide whether Boots will have to recognise the PDAU.
For more information, see the PDA recognition website. Watch PDAU General Secretary, John Murphy, explain in the video below.