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PDA Union makes "incompatibility" application in Boots bid

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union has made the next move to increase its chances of representing Boots’ pharmacists over pay and holidays, known as collective bargaining.

The PDAU filed a request this week (11 February 2014) with the High Court to declare that UK trade union law is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. It had been invited to make the “declaration of incompatibility” application in an interim decision made by the judge presiding over a judicial review brought by Boots (made on 22 January 2014). Boots has rejected the PDAU’s bid for statutory recognition for collective bargaining, preferring to work with another union — the Boots Pharmacists Association.

According to David Reissner, partner and head of healthcare at law firm Charles Russell, a declaration of incompatibility does not change the law of itself, but it provides a clear flag to Parliament that there is an issue to be resolved. “However, until Parliament takes steps to change the legislation the parties would be unaffected by any such declaration and, therefore, at present the parties are bound by the judicial review decision,” he told PJ Online last month.

John Murphy, the general secretary of the PDAU, believes the PDAU’s efforts can lay the groundwork for a change in British law that will “strengthen all workers’ rights to an independent voice at work”.

IDS, a research organisation that analyses employment issues, says in an “law brief” on the case: “If a declaration were to be made, the Government would be under political pressure, though not obliged, to amend the legislation.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11134346

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