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Boots seeks review after appeal against PDA Union rejected

Multiples Boots is seeking a judicial review after its appeal against PDA Union representation of its members failed, claiming employees' wider interests would not be best served at this time

Boots is seeking a judicial review after the government's statutory adjudicator rejected its appeal against the PDA Union gaining formal recognition to represent its employees.

Boots told C+D it had written to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) this week about its intentions after the panel refused to reconsider its decision to accept the PDA Union's first application to act on behalf of Boots members.

Boots has written to the Central Arbitration Committee about its intention to seek a judicial review into the rejection of its appeal against the PDA Union

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The judicial review would also clarify what effect the PDA Union's application would have on Boot's existing agreement with the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA), the health and beauty giant told C+D.

"We do not believe that the wider interests of all our store colleagues would be best served by formally recognising the PDA Union at this time," a Boots spokesperson told C+D.

"Boots works with a number of trade unions across its business functions and respects the right of all colleagues to become members of a trade union of their choice. We believe we have acted consistently throughout this process, putting the interests of our patients and pharmacists at the forefront and acted properly and within the law," the spokesperson added.

The PDA Union made a request in February last year for the CAC to hear its case, after the multiple said it would not formally recognise the union.

The CAC panel ruled last month that it had accepted the PDA Union's application but needed to be satisfied that the union had met the threshold of at least 10 per cent of pharmacists employed by Boots having membership.

The CAC was carrying out membership checks and said it could take up to 25 weeks before a final decision was made.

Boots UK employs about 6,000 pharmacists, according to the company's website, and the PDA Union claims to have 2,100 Boots members.

BPA chief executive officer Peter Walker told C+D this week it would be balloting its members to see if they wanted it to gain full negotiating rights with Boots. The union had applied to the government for a certificate of independence in October, he added.

Would PDA Union representation benefit Boots pharmacists?

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M Yang, Community pharmacist

Clive, I think you've hit the nail on the head with your comment. The way big American companies approach trade unions and employment issues is so very different in that it is much harsher and less tolerant of employees having the right to bargain. The plan is probably to allow the purchase to be completed, for Walgreens to be firmly in control and entrenched against any advances by groups such as the PDA.

This is going to lead to a very messy and prolonged legal battle since Walgreens/Boots will have to fight it on the terms of British, not American, labour law. Plus, it'll draw in developments from the EU on the topic on labour law which are in turn strongly entwined with human rights.

Very messy indeed.

M Chegoun, Locum pharmacist

As an ex Boots employee I have seen a lot of staff who have recently been unfairly dismissed or pushed out of the job .Obviously it's not in Boot's interest to be a member of PDA as they can not use and abuse their staff and get away with it.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

this could be interesting.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I suspect the use of a Judicial Review is just another stalling tactic to allow Boots to keep its very cosy relationship with the BPA going a just little longer…..maybe until Walgreens complete the purchase of the company.

If you look online you will easily find reference to the anti union stance of Walgreens in the USA.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Another watch and wait scenario rumbles on!

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

(sorry, hit "reply" too soon)

I am sure the last thing Walgreens would want is the powerful and effective PDA Union representing Boots Pharmacists when it takes over......much better to have the powerless BPA still there.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

hit the nail on the head. after all the history of the trade union movement in this country we are now going back in time. why can't boots give their pharmacists a simple choice between the bpa and the pda. it's called democracy.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Because Boots are not a democracy*

*This comment has been edited for legal reasons

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