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PDA Union seeks recognition for Alliance Boots pharmacists

By News team

The PDA Union is seeking formal recognition as a trade union that can collectively represent members who work for Alliance Boots.

If Boots grants its request the PDA Union will have the authority to represent Boots employees collectively in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their employment, rather than just disciplinary matters in individual cases.

It would be the first multiple pharmacy to strike such an agreement.

However, if the request is rejected the matter will pass through formal channels, which could end in a ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee — the statutory body established to settle trade union recognition disputes.

According to PDA Union general secretary John Murphy, the arbitration committee expects at least 10 per cent of an organisation’s employees to be signed up to a trade union before it will consider an application for recognition of that union. Around 35 to 40 per cent of Boots pharmacist employees are currently PDA Union members, he said.

The union’s request for formal recognition comes 10 months after Boots rejected an earlier request for an informal, voluntary recognition agreement.

Mr Murphy said: “Boots pharmacists have had enough of their terms of employment being gradually eroded and increasing numbers are asking for a formally recognised, powerful union to protect their rights.”

According to Mr Murphy, Boots pharmacists are not collectively represented by any union because Boots believes that pharmacists are part of the overall store team, and do not represent a unique negotiating group.

In a statement, the PDA Union added: “History shows that some organisations prefer not to deal with strong unions because they fear interference in labour organisation, and Alliance Boots has stated its preference to deal with the Boots Pharmacists’ Association, an organisation that does not have full representative rights.”

A Boots spokeswoman was unable to comment on how Boots plans to respond to the PDA Union’s recognition request, or why it rejected last year’s voluntary recognition proposals.

The PDA Union has written to all its members asking those that work for Boots to register their support for the move on the PDA website. Mr Murphy denied that the move is a recruitment drive in itself but added that the union is always seeking to sign up new members.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11093737

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