The Central Arbitration Committee has ruled that only Boots pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists working predominantly at store level in patient-facing roles can be balloted over whether the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA) or the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDA) should negotiate on matters relating to pay, hours and working conditions.

The decision by the independent body, which oversees the application of employment law as it relates to trade union recognition and collective bargaining, is the latest development in the long-running dispute between Boots and the PDA over the union’s bid to be recognised by the multiple. A legal challenge was mounted last year to derecognise the Boots Pharmacists’ Association as Boots’ officially recognised union.

The BPA said it was disappointed with the decision, believing that all pharmacists within the organisation including those at a senior level should be allowed to vote in any ballot.

Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary at the PDA Union, said: “Many employers across the private and public sectors, including the NHS, engage respectfully and effectively with trade unions that are recognised as the independent voice of employees, so it remains a mystery why the senior management at Boots are so reluctant to do the same.”

Mr Pitt continued: “Actions speak louder than words and it appears that Boots’ senior managers will only negotiate over pay and other working conditions if they are forced to do so by the courts. Other parts of the Boots organisation recognise independent trade unions and the company still has an opportunity to change their attitude and do things differently. We challenge them to voluntarily do the right thing now.”

Unless Boots changes its position, a ballot will shortly be held of pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists employed by the organisation, says the PDA. If a majority of those who vote to support ending the Boots/BPA agreement, and that majority constitutes at least 40 per cent of those entitled to vote, the PDA Union will be able to apply for recognition.

PDA tells Boots: Do the right thing now

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