The vote marks the “final stages” of the long-running dispute, the union said, which dates back to January 2012, when the PDA Union called for official recognition from Boots, after alleging the multiple's staff employment terms were being “gradually eroded”.
The final ballot will run for five weeks from February 4, 2019, with voting papers likely to be posted out in the first 10 days, the PDA Union said yesterday (November 7).
In June 2018, a total of 2,826 registered and pre-registration pharmacists voted to have Boots’ own union – the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA) – “derecognised”, so that their pay, hours and working conditions could be negotiated by a union of their choice. This was just 70 votes above the minimum needed to meet the legal threshold to officially “derecognise” the BPA.
Commenting on the latest announcement, the PDA Union said: “If all those individuals vote to support the PDA Union again, this second ballot can be won.
“However, if less that 40% of those entitled to vote support the PDA Union application, [the union] could be locked out for at least three more years, so every vote counts,” it stressed.
PDA Union assistant general secretary Mark Pitt explained that the organisation had requested the vote to take place after the Christmas and New Year period “when we know stores and pharmacists will be extremely busy”.
He called on all Boots pharmacists “to look at the facts, reflect on their experience over the past six years and make an informed decision in advance of the ballot period”.
Boots “proud” of achievements
Andrew Caplan, Boots pharmacy and retail stores operations director, said the multiple is “proud of [its] market-leading levels of pay for [its] pharmacy population, and holiday allowances that are among the best in community pharmacy”.
“We've achieved that together with our pharmacists, without the complexity of a third party,” he added.
Boots will be updating its pharmacists and “making sure they have all the information they need in order to have their say”, Mr Caplan said.