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PDA union to formally ask to represent Boots pharmacists

The Central Arbitration Committee is expected to confirm that the recent ballot result ends the union between the Boots Pharmacists’ Association and Boots.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) union is to formally ask Boots to recognise it as the negotiating trade union for its pharmacist workforce, following the vote by Boots pharmacists to derecognise the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA).

Pharmacists working for Boots narrowly achieved the threshold needed to end Boots’ relationship with the BPA, when 41.02% of the pharmacist workforce voted for derecognition in a secret ballot. The legal threshold to trigger the split was 40%.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) — which is responsible for resolving trade union disputes —  is now expected to officially confirm that the ballot result ends the trade union recognition agreement between the BPA and Boots.

Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary at the PDAU said: “We will then apply to Boots for recognition and ask that it formally recognises us. We are keen to work constructively with them. There are a lot of ways [in which] we can help Boots achieve their business objectives and protect the benefits of the pharmacists in Boots at the same time.”

The BPA has expressed “disappointment” at the result, which saw 2,826 Boots pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists vote for derecognition (86.63% of voters), while 436 (13.37% of voters) cast their ballot for the agreement with the BPA to continue.

The BPA executive committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the impact of the ballot and “how best to continue serving its members moving forward.”

In a statement issued after the result of the ballot on 7 June 2018, Paul Robinson, chief executive officer of BPA, said: “The BPA would like to thank those who voted against derecognition for their unwavering support, as well as BPA members who have remained loyal during this long campaign and who appreciate all the benefits that BPA membership has to offer.”

He added: “We are obviously disappointed by the result of the ballot, but would like to acknowledge the PDAU’s success in the campaign.”

But Mark Pitt told the PJ: “This is quite a humiliating defeat for the BPA. Even up to a few weeks before the ballot, we were trying to get them to prevent this [the ballot] happening. They were confident of getting the support of the pharmacists but that hasn’t proven to be the case. It’s going to be a difficult time for them.”

The PDAU first asked for Boots to end its agreement with the BPA as long ago as 2011, and it backed legal action by six Boots pharmacists who submitted an application for derecognition of the BPA last year.

The case was the first to come before the CAC under the current, 17-year-old, legislation.

Boots was unavailable for comment on June 7 2018.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204969

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