Boots pharmacists will vote on whether the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union will officially represent them over a five-week period beginning on 4 February 2019.
Of the almost 7000 staff eligible to take part in the ballot, the union needs 40% of them to vote yes in order to win trade union recognition.
If it fails to achieve the target, it is barred, under statutory agreement, from putting the issue to the vote again for three years.
Announcing the ballot, Mark Pitt, the Union’s assistant general secretary, said: “We are now in the final stages of the process needed to give Boots pharmacists greater autonomy and control of their working lives.
“We’d encourage all Boots pharmacists to look at the facts, reflect on their own experiences over the past six years and make an informed decision in advance of the ballot period and then act immediately on receipt of their ballot papers.”
Pitt predicted that the company would campaign against a ‘yes’ vote.
He told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “Boots is not going to want to be caught napping. It is going to throw everything it can at this. We are expecting a very big and high profile campaign.”
Andrew Caplan, retail and pharmacy operations director at Boots, said in a statement that the company wanted to make sure that all its pharmacists had the opportunity to vote and “have their say on whether talks concerning pay, hours and holiday are in their hands or in the hands of a third party, the PDA Union.”
He added: “We are proud of our market-leading levels of pay for our pharmacy population and holiday allowances that are among the best in community pharmacy. We’ve achieved that together with our pharmacists, without the complexity of a third party. Ahead of the ballot, we will be updating our pharmacists on what this process means for them and making sure they have all the information they need in order to have their say.”