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Cautious optimism from PDA as application to represent Boots pharmacists gets green light

The PDA union’s application, made in October 2012, to represent Boots pharmacists for collective bargaining on pay, hours and holidays, was approved yesterday (9 January 2014) by a tribunal.

This means that the PDA is at the second stage of its application process and the two parties have 20 working days (to 6 February) to agree the numbers of pharmacists that will make up the appropriate bargaining unit.

If the two cannot agree the terms of the bargaining unit, then the Central Arbitration Committee will decide it for them, Simon Gouldstone, chief executive of the CAC, told PJ Online. The final decision will appear on the CAC’s website next week.

John Murphy, director of the PDA Union, told PJ Online: “We all live in hope to reach an agreement without CAC intervention on the bargaining unit. We are cautiously optimistic to reach the nature and constitution of the bargaining unit.” The PDA wants to represent store-based pharmacists and preregistration trainees, but not senior pharmacists like “area managers and the above”, he said.

A spokeswoman for Boots told PJ Online that the CAC decision to approve the PDA application was “disappointing”, but that it was still awaiting the outcome of its judicial review, which took place in October 2013 and could affect the recognition process currently under way. 

“We have nearly 7,000 pharmacists that may be considered as part of the bargaining unit (this includes preregistration trainees and pharmacists in non-customer facing roles),” she said.

She added that although Boots works with a number of trade unions across its business, it does not believe that the “wider interests of all our store colleagues would be best served by formally recognising the PDA at this time”.

Mr Gouldstone added: “The timescale for this case has been far longer than other cases, where the average length of time … is usually six months. It is an unusually complicated case. We had to look at the agreement that Boots had with the other trade union, BPA [Boots Pharmacists Association].”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132693

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