Talks between Boots and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) over the future representation of Boots pharmacists, facilitated by the government’s conciliation service the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), have ended without agreement.
The aim of the talks was to establish a possible voluntary arrangement before a 17 September 2018 deadline, following a vote by Boots pharmacists to derecognise the Boots’ Pharmacy Association. However, Boots and the PDAU were unable to agree on who should be included in the bargaining unit of Boots pharmacists.
Boots believe the bargaining unit should be made up of only store-based pharmacists, while the PDAU argues that it should represent all pharmacists and preregistration pharmacists who are employed by Boots.
The lack of agreement means that the bargaining group will now be decided and imposed by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the body which resolves collective workplace disputes.
“We are disappointed that the talks have ended without agreement, but we’d like to thank Acas for their efforts in helping both sides,” said Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary at the PDAU.
“Confidentiality of the process means we cannot report the details of discussions. The PDAU remains open to the option of further facilitated talks and would still work towards a voluntary agreement as an alternative to following a legal route.
“We want to work positively with the management to create improved employee relations and working conditions that benefit the company, employees and patients alike … we found these talks useful as they are the foundations of a healthy and challenging relationship where both parties will be able to speak and be heard, once our ambition to become the recognised union at Boots is achieved.”
Andrew Caplan, pharmacy and retail operation director at Boots UK, said that the conversations with the PDAU had been positive but that he too was disappointed with the outcome.
“We are disappointed that, despite our best efforts and the different options we put forward, the talks have ended without a shared middle ground on the size of the bargaining unit,” he said.
“As we enter the next stage of discussions with the CAC, we genuinely believe that we can find a way through this for our pharmacists to continue to have a voice on the future of Boots with the right negotiation process.”