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Pharmaceutical supplies ‘could be affected’ by striking wholesale workers

“Around 85” members of Unite are striking for recognition at wholesaler Movianto’s Bedford site this week.

Dozens of warehouse workers at Movianto’s Bedford medical supply warehouse are on strike this week as they demand that the company officially recognises their union, Unite, the union told C+D. 

A spokesperson for Unite told C+D that “around 85” members of the union were participating in strike action this week. They said that the union had a mandate for “further action if necessary”. 

According to its company website, Movianto UK runs three “certified warehouses in Bedford, Lutterworth and Haydock”, as well as 12 “regional distribution centres” across the UK. 

The Unite spokesperson said that Movianto’s customers “could be affected” by the interruption to the supply of pharmaceutical products caused by the strike. 

C+D was told that disruptions “will be exacerbated” if the union decides to extend the strikes. 

Read more: PDA slams regulator and CPhO for normalising ‘unsafe practices’ 

On December 12, Unite signalled that strike action at Movianto’s Bedford storage warehouse and distribution centre could be on the cards “in the new year”.  

In a press release, the union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said that the company had refused to “seriously engage with Unite over formal recognition”. 

Ms Graham said at the time that it was “reprehensible that Movianto is sticking its fingers in its ears over this issue”. 

The union said at the time that “over 80 per cent” of worker members had voted to pursue industrial action. 

In February 2023, the Central Arbitration Committee ruled that the GMB union should be recognised as responsible for collective bargaining for “Medical Delivery Technician Class 1, and Medical Delivery Technician Van Drivers employed on the NHS Contract” at Movianto’s Coventry site. 

 

Shortages 

 

In August last year, C+D spoke to Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), about the many factors that can lead to medicines shortages, including media “horror stories”. The HDA represents many medicine supply companies across the UK, although not Movianto.  

Last week (January 4), C+D reported that a shortage of diabetes injection pens with glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) would persist until “at least” the end of 2024. 

Read more: ‘Pharmageddon’: Boots sister company says US walkout had ‘little impact’ 

And in December, C+D looked at the supply issues around the blockbuster weight-loss injection drug Wegovy.  

Patients have also recently faced shortages for ADHD medication, atorvastatin, and HRT medication.  

C+D approached Movianto UK for comment and we were told that the company was not taking calls on the action. 

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