Boots pharmacists have until March 8 to vote on whether their pay, hours and holiday should be collectively negotiated by the PDA Union, following last year’s “derecognition” of Boots’ own union – the Boots Pharmacists’ Association. However, ballot papers will not be posted out until next week (February 18).
The vote 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”.
“Joint negotiation committee”
Boots announced last week (February 6) that if its pharmacists vote to reject PDA Union representation, then it would launch its own alternative – a “joint negotiation committee”.
This “new democratic model” 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 claimed.
The “fully funded and independent” body would consist of representatives elected annually from across its 18 UK regions, it promised.
Boots pharmacy and retail operations director Andrew Caplan added: “To be the first choice for pharmacy, our pharmacists must feel able to talk to us directly. This is what the Boots joint negotiation committee would offer.”
PDA: Pharmacists feel insulted
On learning of Boots’ proposal, PDA Union assistant general secretary Mark Pitt claimed the organisation “immediately heard from pharmacists who felt insulted at [Boots’] total disregard for their previous vote”.
“We have constantly questioned why senior management spend so much time and effort on fighting against their own employees. Once this ballot concludes, we hope they will finally redirect that effort into working with us to improve working conditions for pharmacists,” Mr Pitt said.
The PDA Union claimed that if it wins the vote, it will be able to appoint a network of health and safety officers to help address issues such as pharmacist stress and support those with poor mental health.