The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has called for a change in the law to allow the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to order recognition of a union once a ballot has removed a ‘sweetheart union’ arrangement.
After an eight-year struggle to determine who should represent pharmacists at Boots on issues such as pay, hours and holiday, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) secured a ballot victory over the UK’s largest pharmacy chain this week by 3,229 votes to 266, with 3,308 pharmacists choosing not to vote.
The result saw 47.5% of those eligible to vote support the PDAU, passing the 40% threshold required for the Union to succeed.
It was the second time the PDAU had to go through a ballot with Boots. In June last year, 2,826 Boots pharmacists voted to end their ‘sweetheart’ union arrangement with the Boots Pharmacists’ Association.
“Despite the obvious support for the PDAU to be recognised, the law required a further ballot to be held asking the specific question about recognising the PDAU,” the PDA said.
“This meant the PDAU was required to achieve what others considered almost impossible - twice.”
Calling for a change in the law, the PDAU’s national officer Paul Day said: “Although we have proven it is possible, it should not be necessary for two votes with such a high threshold to be necessary for workers to secure an independent voice at work.
“The current law gives too much opportunity to employers that want to ignore the opinions of their employees and in our opinion is not fairly balanced with the rights of workers to be treated better at work.
“Holding the second ballot process extended the period that pharmacists were denied independent trade union representation at Boots, when the outcome was inevitable.”
He added: “The law should be changed so that the CAC are able to order recognition for a union when a derecognition ballot removes a sweetheart arrangement.
“Alternatively, the derecognition ballot question could be expanded to explicitly ask if employees want to derecognise the sweetheart union in order to recognise the independent union.
“It would also be necessary under such changes to give the applicants for removing the sweetheart union a legal right to communicate with the bargaining unit. This is missing from the current legislation. In either case, this would mean that a single ballot is enough.”
Following the second Boots ballot, Day said he wanted other pharmacy chains to recognise the PDAU “voluntarily rather than having to be forced by a legal process as Boots have done.”
Picture: MarianVejcik (iStock)