Boots has nearly doubled the value of its proposed pay package for employees as remuneration negotiations continue, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) has said.
The offer comes after negotiations over employees’ pay were referred to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) on 18 November 2021.
In October 2021, the PDAU, which has represented the 6,000 pharmacists employed by Boots since July 2019, said the multiple had offered its employees a pay package valued by Boots at 3.25%.
However, the package, which included a 2% pay increase, was “overwhelmingly” rejected by Boots pharmacists.
In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 6 December 2021, Paul Day, director of the PDAU, said the multiple’s pay offer “is always going to be more than the universal rate of increase on pay, and our original claim, and the company’s offers talk about other aspects too”.
“The other aspects of the company’s [new] offer make the total cost to them … almost twice the cost of their initial position at the start of the talks,” Day said.
“However, for most pharmacists within the bargaining unit, it still means another sub-inflation increase and therefore a further reduction in the purchasing power of their reward, even though for some the offer, if implemented, would be higher than that.”
He added that the offer is “now with PDA members at Boots to collectively determine the union’s response”.
The PDAU has previously said it aims to secure an increase in pay above inflation for everyone covered by the negotiations and warned that PDA members at Boots could consider industrial action in response to the multiple’s pay offer.
“Obviously patient safety will always come first for health professionals, but other professions have found ways to take action and, although this would be a first for pharmacists at Boots, it must be possible,” Day said.
“If workers withdraw their labour and go on strike, they are obviously not paid and so lose income. However, other forms of industrial action can be along the lines of strictly enforcing rules without the added flexibility that workers normally give to their employers, [the] so called ‘work to rule’.”
The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, which represents hospital pharmacists, told The Pharmaceutical Journal in October 2021 that it would encourage its members to join any industrial action over the government’s offer of a 3% pay rise for NHS staff.
A spokesperson for Boots said it did not want to provide a comment while the negotiations process was ongoing.
Read more: Pharmacy’s ethnicity pay gap widens