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PDA questions impact of Alliance Boots merger on employees

Boots PDA director John Murphy (pictured) claims that changes to employee terms and conditions are inevitable following Alliance Boots' £4.7bn merger with US pharmacy giant Walgreens

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has questioned whether the £4.27bn Alliance Boots merger with Walgreens will result in changes to employment terms.

Speaking to C+D, PDA director John Murphy And Mr Murphy queried Alliance Boots' assertion that employees would not be negatively affected in future by the merger.

Mr Murphy: questioned the future impact of the merger on employee terms and conditions

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When the deal was announced on June 19, executive chairman Stefano Pessina stressed there would be no changes to the company pension scheme or redundancies. "How can you think about job losses?" he asked. "Boots will not just survive, it will thrive." Last week, both companies confirmed there were no plans to cut jobs at Walgreens or Alliance Boots.

But Mr Murphy said it was difficult to predict how the situation would evolve, despite Mr Pessina remaining the largest shareholder in the combined company. "It's not unusual for an organisation to say nothing will change, but how can they say that?" he asked. "They just don't know, because in a few years something else may well have happened and they'll decide that they're going to change [employment terms]."

Mr Murphy added that the changes would not necessarily disadvantage employees, saying the union had heard "good things" from staff when Wal-Mart took over Asda in 1999.But added that Boots was "determined" to push ahead with its cuts to premium pay for long-serving employees, despite an employment tribunal ruling them illegal.

Boots this week reiterated its statement that it wanted to create a "consistent offer" for its pharmacists that would enable it to "reinvest in better pay, benefits and bonus potential for all".

"The majority of colleagues have accepted the revised premium rates of pay, which came into effect a year ago, understanding that our success as a business depends upon us investing in the right things to be able to deliver legendary customer care," the company said.

Do you think change is inevitable following Boots' Walgreens deal?

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Brian Austen, Senior Management

I find mutual respect, trust and fairness go a long way.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

I wonder if any other companies currently recruiting pharmacists are benefiting from Boots stance on pay and conditions and the uncertainty of the future. It is certainly benefiting me.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

i think that is an exageration 'scary', Boots has excellent clinical governance best practices in place. And the PDA should be engaging constructively on behalf of employees that it represents, the days of Arthur Scargill, one out all out are distant memory of the past.

Mark McDaniel, Non healthcare professional

Engaging Constructively !!!. I don think you understand the meaning of that Gerry. Boots have singled out its longest serving members of staff and implemented a 25% cut in thier pay.

This is wrong however you try to dress it up.

Have you submitted your letter yet notifying your boss that you are in full support of Boots and are will to take your 25% cut in your pay in support of the cause....... ??

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Not all Boots stores have "Excellent Clinical Governance" in place...Some stores do, some dont depending on the area, Demography and staff morale....Having worked all over the country as a Locum I believe I am in a fair position to make this comment....

Alternative Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Boots is now de facto Walgreens. This will have far reaching consequences that no-one will be able to do anything to alter - including the PDA (as evidenced by Boots ignoring the recent Tribunal decision).
At present all Multiple owned Community Pharmacies are scary places to work in from a patient safety perspective and there is absolutely nothing that the GPhC, RPS or PDA can do to change that. All the Multiples are beyond regulatory reach and can impose what terms and conditions they like - the individual Pharmacist will carry the can for any ensuing catastrophes.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I agree. There are too many predictions you can make but in the end they can all be wide of the mark. However, there will be consequences. We were always responsible before the RP regs came.

Nothing has changed on that front day to day. Just more red tape and responsibility for what you have no control over.

Yet now you can be excised like a local 'bad growth' because of this framework and business, and profits will continue for big pharma. It is not like this in all pharmacies of course - but the constant under staffing issue (and associated pressures which will lead to errors) is present in far too many of them.

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