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Boots promises alternative representation if staff reject PDA Union

The Boots joint negotiation committee would be "fully funded and independent"
The Boots joint negotiation committee would be "fully funded and independent"

Boots has proposed a new committee to represent its pharmacists, in a final push to persuade them to reject the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union.

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.

What do you make of the Boots joint negotiation committee proposal?

Michael Parker,

Time maybe for me to out myself as one of the original 6 that helped initiate the original BPA derecognition vote. Although I have now left the Company through retirement I still follow the proceedings with interest. The twists and turns make Brexit seem simple !


To my former colleagues that read this I urge you all to use your vote and not let this opportunity slip away. To those who think it’s too late as all the benefits have been stripped away anyway, I will just say all my years working in Pharmacy have taught me you never know what the future holds, though concerns around remote supervision, robotic dispensing, and other cost cutting measures (wasn’t it three billion savings over next three years?) immediately spring to mind.


Please for your sakes, not mine, vote wisely.


Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Chapeau sir!! Your former colleagues owe you a great deal of  gratitude, you did a good thing ! Let’s hope they understand the opportunity you’ve given them and vote for the PDAU. 

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

*This comment has been deleted to comply with C+D's community principles*

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Whilst I agree with your sentiments, I think you may be a little harsh on your peers. There will be lots of youngsters out there who know no better and the element of fear they instill in their pharmacists is real. Boots are even calling this ballot ‘the future of Pharmacy’ implying that voting pdau will be detrimental to the future of the company with all the scare factor that can imply.

Michael Parker,

The BPA started out as the Joint Boots Pharmacists Association the JBPA. I do wonder how long it would take for the Joint to be dropped from this new Committee? The only way for my former friends and colleagues to gain a truly independent voice at work is to vote for the PDAU.


Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

If its fully funded by Boots how is it possibly independant?


Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

To any Boots Pharmacists out there - please do not fall for this fake promise. Speak to any Boots employee, ex-employee - they will tell you how hard it has been to get to this point. They do not care about the profession, their workforce or their pharmacists - only their profit margin. I would not trust this ploy even for a second - and neither should you!

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Lies and lies and more lies. Bootsxxt, more bootsxxt and yet even more bootsxxt.  But the real question should be - Why even bother working for Boots as an employee pharmacist in the first place? Just be a locum and you earn much much more! Plus you don't need to give a single f to how behind they are, how short-staffed they are, how much targets to hit etc because you are only there for one day and who cares! 

Noah Way, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Boots pharmacists - the pda has fought for you for EIGHT YEARS. Don't be fooled by Boots management - as I see it they just want to keep pharmacists salaries as low as they can to make more money for their billionaire paymasters because that's what they're told to do, they get to keep their jobs and they've been trained to think and act that way. You deserve better.

This new boots joint negotiation committee is a joke. As an employee you'd stand a snowball's chance in hell of negotiating anything from them. Boots might throw you a few meaningless scraps every now and then, which will be their decision not yours, or give you credit for work they're doing anyway when it suits them. Ask for something more and they'll crow about how "times is ard in the NHS" like they have done for decades. Their ENTIRE business depends on pharmacy so their focus on the Nhs is smoke and mirrors. They sell perfumes, sandwiches, cosmetics, otc medicines, homeopathy etc because they trade on their pharmacy image and that's what brings in customers.

Meanwhile just OPEN YOUR EYES. They're making massive profits. How do yuo think they afford all their tv and radio and magazine and social media adverts? How do you think they manage to expand in to other countries and buy new companies? How do you think Stefano Pessina becomes a multibillionaire? They made 3% less last year but they've been growing at 10% for decades and still they want to cut even more - a billion dollars a year!

Then try disagreeing with them and challenging them. Just try it. Who you gonna call for backup? The PDA.

Do yourselves a favour and vote for the PDA for a better life.

Noah Way, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Over the past few months instead of following the twists and turns of the ballot the c+d has run a series of articles that could easily be mistaken for boots adverts.

These non-stories have been instead of an issue that really matters to pharmacists. C+d should be ashamed.

Will c+d set out:

What funding if any does it get from boots or related companies

What arrangements if any does it have with boots over what articles may be published

Leon O Hagan, Community pharmacist

Boots pharmacists already have the chance to have a fully funded and truly independent body consisting of representatives from across the UK.
It's called the PDA Union and all they have to do is vote for them.

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Boots must think that pharmacists are really thick.

Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

Lol! And if any Boots pharmacists falls for this, you deserve to be workign for them under such dire circumstances!

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I wish someone from Boots would come forward and explain why they insist on treating their pharmacists with such derision and contempt, when without them they would not be able to operate a pharmacy business in the UK. How any company can behave like this is almost incomprehensible in modern society. They will do anything in the pursuit of pure profits, watch the "pharmacists under pressure" on YouTube.

Look out for the incredibly shifty-looking, blustering Boots guy who denies everything whilst waving his hands around a lot. There ain't no smoke without fire, buddy. Make sure you watch the full 29 minute programme.

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Is there no low to which Boots will not stoop in denying their pharmacists an independent vote to see if they want independent trade union representation. What are they so afraid of ? What other indignities to pharmacists’ professional autonomy do they have in store for their long suffering pharmacists that they don’t want challenged? Now understand why C&D didn’t post a story earlier in response to the twitter questions - they were waiting for their paymasters to give them this story! Hang your heads in shame C&D!!! 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

This shows that people will vote for actions rather then words, so the decognisation of the BDA is to be expected. Pharmacists simply don't feel they are capable of doing the job.

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