Image: twitter/PDA

An overwhelming majority of pharmacists at Boots have chosen to join a trade union in a long-running dispute over union recognition.

A total of 3,229 Boots pharmacists (92.4%) voted in favour of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), while 266 (7.6%) chose to be represented by an internal committee proposed by the company management.

More than 47 percent of the eligible voters supported the PDA helping the union to surpass the 40 percent threshold required for success. The number of those that didn’t vote stood at 3,308.

“We mustn’t forget that every single day over the last 8 years the company have had the ability to voluntarily recognise the PDA Union, but every single day they decided to keep fighting their own employees. As a result of this behaviour Boots will now be forced to recognise their employees’ choice of union,” Mark Pitt, assistant general secretary of PDA, said last night.

“Despite the clear message from pharmacists in the 2018 ballot, where 87 percent voted in favour of removing the BPA to allow PDA Union recognition, the company continued to use everything it could to stop pharmacists securing an independent voice at work until now.”

The PDA Union is the largest membership organisation of individual pharmacists in the UK, including 2,500 Boots pharmacists. It first sought recognition at Boots in 2011.

In June last year, more than 2,800 registered and pre-registered pharmacists voted to ‘derecognise’ Boots’ own union, the Boots Pharmacists’ Association (BPA), so that the pay, hours of work and working conditions of the employees could be negotiated by a union of their choice.

“Three senior managers became the faces of the 2019 management anti-union strategy; they risked their personal and professional credibility by running a negative campaign. They not only lost, but this result shows support for the PDA Union has grown as this process has continued,” Pitt added.

The PDA General Secretary, John Murphy, has written to Boots head Seb James, inviting him to create a new, positive chapter in employee relations at the company.

The union will now reach a recognition pact with Boots under the guidance of the Central Arbitration Committee.