Boots pharmacists vote ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of PDA Union
Ninety two per cent of Boots pharmacists who took part in a ballot voted in favour of having their pay, hours and holiday negotiated by the PDA Union, it announced last night.
A total of 3,229 registered and pre-registration Boots pharmacists voted in favour, with just 266 rejecting Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) Union representation.
The PDA Union needed the vote of at least 40% of the pharmacists eligible to take part in the ballot to succeed – which it surpassed, securing 48%.
Both parties will now discuss the terms of a recognition agreement, with guidance from the Central Arbitration Committee – the independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes.
The results of the ballot marks the final stages of the long-running dispute, which dates back to 2012, when the PDA Union called for official recognition from Boots, after alleging the multiple's staff employment terms were being “gradually eroded”.
Commenting on the results of the vote last night, the PDA Union said it “hopes that [Boots] will now finally agree to put the past behind them and work positively together with the union so that we can improve things at Boots for pharmacists, pre-registration pharmacists, patients and the company”.
Boots pharmacy and retail operations director Andrew Caplan said: “Clearly, this is not the result that we had hoped for. However, we have listened to the voice of our pharmacists and offer our congratulations to the PDA Union.”
Next steps for Boots
Boots announced last month that if its pharmacists voted to reject PDA Union representation then it would launch its own alternative – a “joint negotiation committee” – which would be helmed by an “independent chairperson, with full negotiation rights on all aspects of pharmacy at Boots” – including strategy, pay, hours and holiday – and “direct access to senior leadership”.
The multiple told C+D this morning that in light of the result, it will not proceed with its plans for the joint negotiating committee.
Boots and the PDA Union will now enter negotiations on the recognition agreement, which the multiple expects to last six weeks.
“Once that has taken place, we'll be able to confirm how our listening structures will work in the future,” Boots told C+D.
Read C+D’s analysis of whether the PDA Union's victory will lead to increased unionisation across community pharmacy.