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Boots employees win historic vote to decide union for themselves

More than 2,800 Boots pharmacists have voted to end an agreement with the multiple’s own union, paving the way for the PDA Union to represent them.

Forty-seven per cent of the 6,890 registered and pre-registration pharmacists eligible to take part voted on whether they would like to see Boots’ own union – the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA) – “derecognised”, so that their pay, hours and working conditions can be negotiated by a union of their choice.

A total of 2,826 voted in favour, just 70 more than needed to meet the legal threshold, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union announced yesterday afternoon (June 6).

The PDA Union can “now proceed with steps to get statutory recognition at the employer”, potentially bringing an end to the long-running legal dispute between the two organisations.

The vote was the “first time this process has ever been undertaken in the UK”, the PDA Union claimed, “as no group of employees has ever taken a campaign to end recognition of a non-independent trade union this far down the legal process”.

BPA chief executive officer Paul Robinson said the union is “obviously disappointed by the result of the ballot, but would like to acknowledge the PDA Union’s success in the campaign”.

“Over the next few weeks, the BPA executive team will meet to discuss the impact of the ballot and how best to continue serving its members moving forward,” he added.

“The BPA would like to thank those that voted against de-recognition for their unwavering support, as well as BPA members who have remained loyal during this long campaign, and who appreciate all the benefits that BPA membership has to offer.”

The story behind the vote

Six Boots pharmacists lodged a legal challenge to formally “derecognise” the BPA with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – the independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes – in July 2017.

The dispute dates back to January 2012, when the PDA Union called for official recognition from Boots, after alleging the multiple's staff employment terms were being “gradually eroded”.

The CAC decided in February that Boots pharmacists in “predominantly” patient-facing roles would be balloted to decide which union will represent them, once a “qualified independent person” was appointed to oversee the votes.

Did you take part in the vote?

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