Boots' union is unfazed by a High Court judge's suggestion that the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) Union try a new strategy in its ongoing battle to represent the multiple's employees.
Judge Sir Brian Keith granted Boots a "pyrrhic victory" on September 12, ruling that the multiple's refusal to recognise the PDA Union was within European law. Sir Brian said his verdict opened up the possibility of the PDA Union applying for an end to bargaining arrangements between Boots and its own union, the Boots Pharmacists' Association (BPA).
BPA chief executive John Makepeace said the organisation was "quite sanguine" about the verdict. Boots, its pharmacists and the PDA all respected the BPA's work and it was not in anybody's interest to "destroy" this, he told C+D in an exclusive interview on Friday (September 19).
In his verdict, Sir Brian said the PDA Union would need to find a Boots pharmacist to support its application to end the BPA's bargaining arrangements with its members. This would allow the PDA Union to make a fresh attempt to represent Boots employees.
Mr Makepeace said finding a pharmacist to take part would be an "interesting exercise" for the PDA Union. "We'd have to take legal advice at that point and see what our options were. We have a strong, growing membership and our main concern would be what's going to happen to their representation if that was to happen," he said.
Mr Makepeace stressed that the BPA was "not sitting back and worrying" about the PDA Union's possible course of action and the legal implications of the case were not "slowing [the BPA] down".
The BPA's relationship with its members did not "hang on its legal status" and would not affect its "day-to-day work", he added.
The legal process
PDA Union general secretary John Murphy told C+D that the organisation had "never considered" calling for an end to the BPA's bargaining arrangements before.
The union was still "set on exhausting any legal processes" that would achieve its initial goal of proving that it should be legally allowed to represent Boots employees. This could involve taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Murphy said.
The PDA Union has been embroiled in a legal battle to be formally recognised by the health and beauty giant for more than two years, since it claimed that the rights of Boots pharmacists were being "gradually eroded" in 2012.