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PDA: Boots pharmacists reject 2% pay rise offer, increasing ‘likelihood’ of industrial action

Boots pharmacists have rejected the multiple’s offer for a 2% pay rise and have called on their union the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) to refer the matter to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Pay negotiations between the PDA Union members and Boots, which started this summer and cover 6,000 pharmacists employed by the multiple, have seen Boots offering to increase pay rates by 2%, the PDA said in a statement this afternoon (October 22).

In addition to that, the multiple offered a “a one-off lump sum worth 0.38% and other measures to reward those in the initial stages of their career”, the PDA added.

The multiple has valued the package at 3.25%, according to the PDA, but the union members have rejected what the PDA referred to as a “sub-inflationary 2% [pay] increase".

In a statement shared with C+D on Saturday (October 23), a Boots spokesperson said the multiple is “disappointed by the PDA union’s decision to decline [its] proposal”. 

"We have offered a substantial pay and development package that directly addresses the key areas raised by the PDA Union and, in fact, our total proposed pay increase, weighted towards pharmacists at the start of their career, exceeds the PDAU’s aggregate request. This is in addition to the year-end bonus payment that all pharmacists, as Boots team members, will be granted in November 2021," the spokesperson added.

ACAS – an independent public body that offers advice to employers and employees – will be invited to work with the PDA Union and Boots, the union said.

Both parties will “explore ways that Boots could revise [its] offer and make an across-the-board increase higher than the current rate of inflation of 3.1%”, the PDA added.


Increased “likelihood of industrial action”


PDA Union director Paul Day said that the rejection of Boots’ offer by the union’s members “does increase the likelihood that Boots’ pharmacists could consider taking some form of industrial action in the coming months”.

In an email to Boots members – seen by C+D – the PDA said that industrial action “is never considered lightly, but members are asking us about this option”.

However, the PDA said it hopes to persuade Boots to rethink its offer.

“The union will only consider industrial action once we have exhausted negotiations and not before we have asked you whether you want us to conduct a formal industrial action ballot,” the PDA Union said in its email.


Pay freeze last year


Mr Day pointed out that Boots pharmacists accepted a pay freeze last year, although the shareholders of Boots’ parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance “have continued to receive record levels of dividends", he claimed.

He said: “This year it is time for Boots to recognise the significant contribution our members make to keeping the business successful while also delivering essential healthcare to the public.

“The union’s objective has been to secure a fair, above inflation increase for everyone covered by these talks, but unfortunately the company’s current offer fails to do that.”

“The public relies upon a range of pharmacy services at Boots, such as dispensing of prescriptions and flu vaccinations. We call on the company to do everything they can to resolve this dispute as a matter of extreme urgency,” Mr Day added.



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