PDAU secures backing from 10% of Boots pharmacists in legal action

Boots pharmacists back Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) in its bid to derecognise Boots’ own representative body, and allow PDAU to negotiate on behalf of pharmacists working for Boots.

Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary at the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union


The Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) has revealed it has secured enough support to partially trigger the next stage of its legal application to “derecognise” the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA).

A spokesperson for the union reported the threshold had been “comfortably” reached after the Central Arbitration Committee had advised at least 10% of the 7,000 pharmacists who work for Boots had to back the action.

Boots pharmacists were urged by the PDAU last week to pledge their support, and the union will now have to demonstrate further “subjective” backing from Boots pharmacists for the action to proceed.

It follows an application by six Boots pharmacists, submitted to the CAC last month, to derecognise the BPA, the non-independent trade union which currently represents pharmacists working for the company.

The BPA, in its official response to the legal application, had argued that PDAU claims that most Boots pharmacists supported derecognition of the BPA was misleading and was in fact based on historic pledges of support for recognition of the PDAU.

It is the latest development in a five-year battle to secure independent representation for Boots pharmacists, and the CAC said, if the legal action were to go ahead, a final decision on the future of the BPA would be made by secret ballot.

Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary of the PDAU said both parties were now awaiting instruction from the CAC.

  • This story was amended on 25 August to clarify that the CAC is still considering the PDAU’s application in regard to whether the legal action proceeds.

Timeline of events

August 2017: 
PDAU urges Boots pharmacists to pledge support for legal action.

July 2017:

Six Boots pharmacists apply to CAC to derecognise BPA.

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.

January 2014: 
High Court concludes in an interim decision that Boots has no obligation to recognise the PDAU because its agreement with the BPA could block the application under UK law.

January 2013: 
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.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PDAU secures backing from 10% of Boots pharmacists in legal action;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203455

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