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Boots pharmacists one step closer to deciding union for themselves

Boots’ pharmacists are one step closer to being able to decide for themselves which union collectively negotiates their pay, hours and holiday.

Six Boots pharmacists launched a legal challenge in July to formally "derecognise" Boots' own union, the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA). The challenge was delivered to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – the independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes – on July 28.

The dispute dates back to January 2012, when the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) Union called for official recognition from Boots, after alleging the multiple's employees were tired of their employment terms being "gradually eroded".

Following the CAC's decision today (November 15) to allow Boots pharmacists the right to "derecognise" the BPA, the parties involved in the case have 20 days to reach an agreement, prior to all Boots pharmacists being balloted to decide which union will represent them, the PDA claimed.

The CAC described the case as "particularly unusual and interesting", the PDA claimed. The CAC's decision will be published in full on November 20, the PDA added.

PDA Union assistant general secretary Mark Pitt said that Boots now has an opportunity to “respect and listen to the views of its employees, terminate the agreement with the BPA and voluntarily recognise the PDA Union as the voice of pharmacists at Boots”.

“It will be disappointing if senior management insist on making pharmacists go through a full ballot process in order to be represented by the union of their choice,” Mr Pitt said.

“Whatever Boots and the BPA decide, we are in no doubt that pharmacists employed at Boots will be able to see through any attempt to detract from the CAC decision,” he added.

Boots’ response

Boots UK pharmacy director Richard Bradley said the multiple “respects the rights of its colleagues” to become members of a trade body “of their own choice”.

“We are currently reviewing the CAC’s decision to fully understand why it believes that the application should proceed with such a low level of support pledged,” Mr Bradley said.

“We continue to believe that maintaining our relationship with the BPA and working with our pharmacist partnership panel is the most inclusive way of making sure all our pharmacists have a voice.”

For a timeline of the Boots and PDA saga from 2012 to 2017, click here.

What do you make of the CAC's decision?

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