Boots pharmacists launch claim for recognition

BootsPharmacists working for Boots have launched a legal challenge for recognition.

Employees of the high street store have since 1973 been represented at work by the staff association Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA), which describes itself as being “set up by Boots Pharmacists for Boots Pharmacists”.

Now the BPA is being challenged by the Pharmacists Defence Association Union (PDAU) – set up in 2008 and granted independent trade union status by the Certification Officer in 2011.

For five years the PDAU has been attempting to gain recognition but has been blocked because of an “agreement” between Boots and the BPA. Now, with the full backing of the PDAU, a group of pharmacists employed by Boots Management Services Ltd (Boots) have submitted a court application to derecognise the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA).

The BPA has until tomorrow to respond to the application. There is then a 10-day period for both parties to agree a solution before the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) makes a ruling.

PDAU general secretary John Murphy said: “It is unfathomable that Boots is so determined to deny an independent voice to the thousands of pharmacists that it employs. The company has systematically challenged the PDAU in the courts to prevent our members and Boots pharmacists securing collective bargaining rights for better terms and conditions at work.

“The individuals taking this action are representative of many thousands of Boots pharmacists who have been frustrated by their employer’s actions. We are delighted to be able to support their case and have been asked to speak on their behalf.”

John Murphy said: “Pharmacists at Boots deserve to be treated fairly and with respect at work. They should have job security, fair reward and a good working environment. They want to be able to put patient safety and professional standards first, as autonomous healthcare professionals. The PDA Union, as an independent trade union, seeks an agreement with Boots to allow us to negotiate formally on behalf of Boots pharmacists to enhance and secure our members’ working conditions.

“We want to work with Boots to ensure those things become a reality for all its pharmacists. I think any sensible person would have to ask why the senior management of Boots opposes that? Just what are they afraid of?

“Either Boots or the leadership of the BPA could voluntarily terminate their agreement at any time, but instead they are continuing to use it as a mechanism to block pharmacists securing the independent representation they want, via the full recognition of the PDA Union.

“We will never give up fighting for and supporting our members.”

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