A group of pharmacists employed by Boots has launched a legal challenge to secure independent representation at work — the latest development in a five-year campaign by Boots pharmacists to give collective bargaining rights to an independent union.
The pharmacists have applied to “derecognise” the body that currently represents pharmacists working for Boots, the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA), which is a non-independent trade union.
The application to the Central Arbitration Committee (which resolves workplace disputes) is backed by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU), which represents employed pharmacists in the UK.
The PDAU made an application to be formally given collective bargaining rights by Boots in 2013.
This latest legal challenge follows a Court of Appeal judgment earlier this year (February), which said the only way Boots pharmacists could have collective bargaining rights represented by the PDAU was by seeking derecognition of the BPA. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Boots, and found that it was lawful for the organisation not to recognise the PDAU as the official trade union representing its pharmacists.
Source: Pharmacists’ Defence Association
John Murphy, general secretary of the PDAU said: “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.”
The PDAU said that this latest action by pharmacists would lead to a secret ballot of all Boots-employed pharmacists and pre-registration graduates below area manager level, which, depending on the result, could dissolve the agreement [between Boots and the BPA] and leave the way clear for a second ballot to decide whether Boots will have to recognise the PDAU.
Murphy said the union was seeking an agreement with Boots, “to allow us to negotiate formally on behalf of Boots pharmacists to enhance and secure our members’ working conditions”.
In a statement on its website the BPA said: “We have been expecting the application of derecognition and will now work through the due process which follows.”
A Boots UK spokesperson said: “We respect the right of our colleagues to become members of a trade body of their choice. However, in order to best serve the interests of our pharmacy and wider Boots colleague population, we believe that it is essential to build great relationships between pharmacists, their line managers and their local teams. We will continue to work with the Boots Pharmacists Association, to deliver the best working environment and provide great care for our patients.”