Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA) has written to Boots employees urging them to support the union in a last-ditch attempt to prevent its de-recognition as the representative negotiating body for pharmacy staff at Boots.
The letter dated 4 August 2017 states that the union is “committed to ensuring that we retain our current consultative agreement and recognition by Boots”.
“If the agreement is not maintained, we believe the effectiveness and purpose of the BPA in its current form would be under threat,” it adds.
The letter was sent in response to a legal challenge by a group of pharmacists employed by Boots, who have been in a five-year battle to secure independent representation at work through gaining collective bargaining rights for an independent union.
The pharmacists have applied to the Central Arbitration Committee, which resolves workplace disputes, to “de-recognise” the BPA, which is a non-independent trade union, as the official body representing pharmacists working for Boots.
The request for the BPA to be de-recognised is backed by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU), which represents employed pharmacists in the UK. The PDAU made an application to Boots for formal collective bargaining in 2013. However, a Court of Appeal judgment earlier in February 2017 said that the only way Boots pharmacists could have collective bargaining rights represented by the PDAU was by seeking de-recognition of the BPA.
In an attempt to fight off the challenge, the BPA’s letter points to “a long list of achievements” negotiated during more than 40 years of the union representing pharmacists at Boots. These include paid training time for pharmacists participating in the flu vaccination programme; a commitment from Boots to maintain workload-driven staffing levels post NHS England funding cuts; enhanced pension benefits; and the retention of the death-in-service benefit.
Members receive “superb value and an exceptional level of care and support” from the organisation that is focused solely on Boots pharmacy staff, the letter says. It also urges members to continue supporting the BPA, and encourages non-members to find out more about the BPA and consider joining the union.