An application by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union for it to be recognised for collective bargaining by Boots has been formally accepted by the body that resolves collective disputes in England.
The ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) moves the PDA Union a step closer to representing Boots pharmacists. It stated that it was satisfied that “a majority of the workers in the proposed bargaining unit would be likely to support recognition of the union”.
The PDA Union submitted its application in July 2018 after Boots pharmacists and preregistration pharmacists voted to end the recognition agreement between Boots and the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA) in June 2018.
In the first vote of its kind under UK law, 41.02% of Boots pharmacists and preregistration pharmacists voted to support the end of the arrangement.
The CAC officially ended the bargaining arrangements between the BPA and Boots in June 2018, and since then the PDA and Boots have met to discuss the future representation of Boots pharmacists.
According to the CAC ruling, Boots had questioned whether the BPA derecognition vote meant that recognition of the PDA was supported by Boots pharmacists.
The Union and Boots disagree over which pharmacists should be included in the bargaining unit, with the company suggesting that it should be only store-based pharmacists, and the Union arguing that it should represent all pharmacists and preregistration pharmacists who are employed by Boots.
Andrew Caplan, pharmacy and retail operations director for Boots UK, said he hoped talks with the PDA would resume.
“Rather than continue our discussions about the basis of a voluntary agreement, the PDA instigated formal proceedings to which we were obliged to respond,” said Caplan. “Today’s decision of the CAC is the conclusion of the first stage in that process.”
Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary at the PDA, said: “The PDA Union has demonstrated over the last seven years that we do not give up on our members and are committed to doing what is best for pharmacists by proceeding with this process.”
This story was amended on 22 August 2018 to clarify that
negotiations are ongoing between Boots and the PDA Union over representation of Boots pharmacists and that
the CAC ruling is not a final decision on representation.