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PDA vows to protect Boots pharmacists after GPhC ‘refusal’

Mark Koziol: Derecognition of the BPA is not our preferred outcome

Being represented by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is the “only way” to protect Boots’ pharmacists after the regulator’s “refusal to take action”, the Union's assistant general secretary has said.

Mark Koziol has again criticised the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) lack of action to protect the interests of Boots pharmacists, and said it is "vital" to continue to “hold [the multiple] to account over its business behaviours and its treatment of pharmacists”.

Mr Koziol described the negative coverage in the Guardian in 2016 – which he said "exposed unacceptable working conditions and the impact it has on patients” – as “shameful” for the profession. Boots said at the time it did "not recognise" the claims.

“However, even after strong views were expressed by MPs in parliament about the need for regulatory action, the GPhC, a body established to protect the interests of the public, has refused to take appropriate action against Boots, claiming that the GPhC is only peripheral to the issue of working environments,” Mr Koziol stressed.

The GPhC declined to comment on Mr Koziol's statement.

PDA Union seeks "formal recognition"

Mr Koziol was reacting to the Court of Appeal’s decision last Friday (February 10) in the long-running legal case between the PDA Union and Boots, which upheld a High Court decision that Boots’ refusal to formally recognise the union was lawful.

The PDA Union claims the multiple's employees are tired of their employment terms being "gradually eroded", and has applied to have formal recognition at Boots.

Mr Koziol said the Court of Appeal had “clarified” that the “only way” Boots pharmacists can have their pay, hours and holiday collectively negotiated by the PDA Union, is to have Boots’ own union, the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA), “derecognised”.

Although this is “not our preferred outcome…Boots has invested significant resources to try and keep the PDA Union away from its pharmacist employment conditions", Mr Koziol said.

“In the absence of any effective intervention from the regulator, a collective bargaining agreement held by the [PDA Union] is now the only practical way for Boots pharmacists to have their interests protected.”

BPA response

A spokesperson for the BPA said the union “notes with interest” the Court of Appeal’s decision, and “both Boots and the PDA Union will undoubtedly need to consider the outcomes of the decision and what this means for them”.

"BPA has its members' interests at its heart, and continues to champion the role and contribution of Boots pharmacists, and represent the views of our members in our regular dialogue with the Boots executives," they added.

What impact might the PDA Union and Boots case have on the sector?

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

The BPA are in the pocktet af senior management and are not going to rock the boat.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

If the BPA do have the members' interests at heart, then I suggest you ACTUALLY do something! There has been no action to-date on a number of issues, which the PDA has successfully challenged. In this spirit of member interest, please do consider your derecognition.

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

I’m surprised you expect them to do something Meera. 

This is a political problem. This therefore requires a political solution.

We have already made the right choice luckily, leaving the EU. Now we need to make sure that we leave the EEA completely. The US president has helped us out by scrapping TTP, which would have allowed the rest of the US Pharma to pop over with ease. 

BPA is not a credible organisation, considering it receives funding from Boots. Financial interest and organisations don’t go together, never have done.

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