Source: Courtesy, PDAU
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has accepted a legal application from Boots pharmacists to dissolve the agreement between Boots and the non-independent trade union, Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA).
The decision could enable the independent trade union, Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU), to negotiate formally on behalf of Boots pharmacists to determine pay and working conditions.
The CAC had said a final decision on whether the PDAU would be given bargaining rights would depend on a secret ballot of Boots pharmacists, but according to the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, the parties now have 20 days to see if an agreement can be reached on the bargaining arrangement prior to any ballot taking place.
The CAC panel that reviewed the application, which was submitted by six Boots pharmacists in August 2017, described the case as “a particularly unusual and interesting case” and the first of its kind to come before the CAC under the current, 17-year-old, legislation.
“The company now has an opportunity to respect and listen to the views of its employees, to terminate the agreement with the BPA and voluntarily recognise the PDA Union as the voice of pharmacists at Boots,” said Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary of the PDAU, which represents employed pharmacists in the UK.
Richard Bradley, pharmacy director at Boots UK, said that the company respects the right of its colleagues to become members of a trade body of their choice but that it is currently reviewing the CAC’s decision to fully understand why it believes that the application should proceed with such a low level of support pledged.
“Today, even though only a small percentage of pharmacists in the bargaining unit pledged their support for the application to derecognise the BPA, the CAC announced its decision to proceed to the next stage which involves further discussions and, possibly, a ballot.
“We continue to believe that maintaining our relationship with the BPA and working with our Pharmacist Partnership Panel is the most inclusive way of making sure all our pharmacists have a voice. We will, of course, be making sure that our pharmacists have all the information they need to understand exactly what will be happening and when.”
Pitt said it would be “disappointing” if senior management insisted on “making pharmacists go through a full ballot process in order to be represented by the union of their choice”.
The full decision will be available to view on the CAC website from 20 November 2017 and the PDA plans to put together an analysis “in due course”.
Timeline of events
February 2017: Court of Appeal upholds High Court’s decision.
November 2016: PDAU appeals High Court ruling.
September 2014: The High Court rules that the UK and European laws are compatible and the only remaining course of action is for a Boots pharmacist to seek derecognition of the BPA.
July 2014: PDAU makes an application for a declaration of incompatibility of UK law with the European Convention on Human Rights on the back of the High Court’s ruling. A further hearing is held after government intervention.
CAC determines that PDAU’s application for recognition for collective bargaining rights with Boots should be allowed to proceed. Boots disagrees with the judgment and seeks a judicial review.
22 March 2012: Boots director of pharmacy writes to the PDAU saying it does not accept the proposal for formal recognition as it already has a formal, productive and effective way of working with the BPA. The PDAU proceeds with its application to the CAC.
1 March 2012: Boots prepares an agreement with the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA), signed by both parties on 1 March 2012, which prohibits discussions on terms and conditions of employment by the PDAU.
February 2012: On 14 February, PDAU formally requests recognition by statutory procedure (via the Central Arbitration Committee [CAC]) with Boots. PDAU formally withdraws its application at Boots’s request.
10 February 2012: Boots again refuses PDAU’s request.
19 January 2012:
PDAU asks for voluntary recognition again.
March 2011: Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) writes to Boots asking the company to voluntarily recognise it for collective bargaining purposes. Boots refuses request.