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Boots' union claims 'insufficient' support for PDA challenge

BPA: Support we have given to members will continue throughout legal challenge
BPA: Support we have given to members will continue throughout legal challenge

Boots’ union has claimed there is “not sufficient” evidence to suggest most of its pharmacists want to be represented by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union.

Six Boots pharmacists launched a legal challenge last month to have their pay, hours and holiday collectively negotiated by the PDA Union. The challenge was delivered to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – the independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes – on July 28.

Both Boots and its union, the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA), were invited by the CAC to respond to the legal challenge.

In a statement to C+D yesterday (August 16), the BPA said in its opinion “the evidence presented [by the PDA Union] is not sufficient, as it is largely based on historic pledges of support for recognition of the PDA Union, and not de-recognition of the BPA”.

The PDA has been calling on Boots pharmacists to support its challenge on its website, since the Union launched proceedings.

However, “no evidence of the outputs of this activity has been shared with the BPA at this stage”, Boots' union told C+D.

The BPA copied its response to the CAC panel to “inform their decision”, it said.

“We are proud of our many achievements over the years, that have been to the benefit of our members and Boots pharmacists in general,” it added. “The support we have given to our members will continue throughout this process.”

Boots’ response to CAC

Boots told C+D on Tuesday (August 15) that the multiple had written to all its pharmacists to confirm it “does not support the de-recognition of the BPA”.

“We respect the right of all colleagues to become members of a trade body of their choice. However, we have always believed that [through] our ways of working and engaging…we have the best opportunity to engage with each individual pharmacist across Boots, ensuring everyone has a voice,” it said.

The BPA's “intimate knowledge” of the business means it has been “challenging, informative and constructive” over the 40-year partnership, which “has made a big difference to our pharmacists and our business as a whole”, Boots said.

“The formal relationship we have is uniquely placed to help us into the future,” it added.

Announcing the legal challenge last month, PDA Union general secretary John Murphy said “the individuals taking this action are representative of many thousands of Boots pharmacists who have been frustrated by their employer’s actions”.

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

What should unions offer their pharmacist members?

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Your rank and file pharmacist at Boots won't speak openly for fear of being targetted by management. This would of course be followed by a campaign of harassment, threats of dismissal and attempts to get said individual referred to GPhC for FtP. The PDAis astute enough, so presumably it's gathering evidence and support in a more discreet manner.

Boots Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I am a member of the BPA and can see their value in the past but I think times have changed and I feel a bit let down by them. Boots has reduced pharmacists pay and conditions bit by bit over around 10 years and I am sure it will continue. The BPA have been powerless to stop this and I am not sure they have even tried. When Sunday premiums were reduced, they advised that the changes were legal. This was proved in court to not be true, but it was too late for the BPA members who had already accepted it, so pharmacists are actually paid LESS as a result of following BPA advice and not challenging the company. For a union to sign an agreement saying they will freely give up any bargaining rights seems absurd - as a BPA member, I don't recall being consulted on this. I can't see how this arrangement benefits anyone but Boots and in this case I do believe my union was putting Boots and its own interests (i.e. existence) above the interests of its members. I think the best solution is for collaboration between BPA and PDA. Yes, it is beneficial to have a union with representation from Boots pharmacists, but this has often been middle management, which seems like a conflict of interests. If Boots has no intentions of eroding conditions further then they have nothing to be afraid of.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Such a shame that you're posting in this publications which in recent times seems to be a Boots propaganda tool. I wish you well in your endeavours.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Complete waste of time material from Boots Union! Simple maths - provide the membership numbers as illustrated by one of the members above and that will "show the insufficient support". The BPA are being particularly difficult about this - wonder why?! Worth reading the ruling that stated they don't qualify for independent union status - answers everything really. To the Boots pharmacists out there - make sure you show your support for the de-recognition, otherwise there will be dire consequences to your future pay & roles. The BPA to-date has not negotiated on any key issues, despite members reporting things - they only exist to serve thier own existence as a "named body", but completely toothless. Good luck PDA - you have my full support!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

For those of you reading this article and wondering what the fuss is all about try to imagine if train drivers at Chiltern railways had to join chiltern railways union. And then imagine if the train drivers journal thought this perfectly okay and remained silent on whether this was the best arrangement for the drivers.




Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

''...Boots' union...''

Surely an oxymoron, how can members of a union hope the union acts in their own best interests when they are affiliated to the company that employees them and are therefore influenced, arguably controlled by Boots?...

...Boots pharmacists might as well as throw money down the drain instead of paying their membership fees. 

This whole argument regarding the PDA is a complete joke, if Boots pharmacists want to join the Boots union then they should suffer the consequences of their stupidity...

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Seems obvious but for some reason Mr Waldron and his colleagues are unable to have a view one way or another. Very telling when a child would be able to clearly see that joining the BPA couldn't possibly be in their best interest.

I wonder if Mr Waldron or any of his colleagues would join a union designated or directly affiliated to their employer? I'm sure you readers would like to know.


Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

If they speak out then no- one to sponsor the c and d awards!!! Lol

Sham Kiani, Community pharmacist

I really hope PDA get the backing of its members to see this through!

Leroy Jackson, Community pharmacist

From C&D own article a few weeks back;

"The PDA Union represents “approximately 2,300” Boots employees....

According to figures submitted to the government, the BPA had 1,253 members at the end of 2016."

C&D then runs a Boots story saying;

"they feel there is “not sufficient” evidence to suggest most of its pharmacists want to be represented by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union."

Ahhhh come on Grace - did you even question them or does C&D just spew out press releases without any research or checking??


Mike Bereza, Community pharmacist

What a shame, maybe the PDA could get a petition signed for their Boots Union and challenge Boots to do the same?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

My point exactly. Even basic tabloids have an editorial section where they express an opinion on any number of issues and stand by them. C&D on the other continually dodge making any sort of stand. On something as plain and clear as the multiples imposing poor working environments and making targets of services such as MURs they refuse to speak out. Disappointing and some would say cowardly.

Silence like Trump and neo nazis is tacit support for the underhand tactics of some of these multiples. Even a child would realise the obvious conflict of interest when BPA represents Boots pharmacists when issues arise such as pay and conditions. That C&D for some reason cannot reduces the journal to little more than a comic.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Very funny. Editorial team, back from your hols ? What are your views?

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