The 86.63% vote to de-recognise the Boots Pharmacists Association (BPA) ends six years of wrangling as anti-union bosses tried to avoid letting staff organise.
Trade unionists have been fighting the case since 2012, when after initially agreeing to talks about recognising the Pharmacists’ Defence Association bosses pulled a fast one by using the breather to recognise its own group, the BPA.
Once recognised, under British law a registered union has control over bargaining in a given workplace unit which allowed Boots, under the control of US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, to give trade unionists the runaround.
A court case brought by the PDA which went all the way to the High Court broke legal ground by ruling that, even though the BPA had been set up while negotiations were still underway, and even though the written agreement restricted bargaining to facilities for officials and how consultation was undertaken, blatantly excluding pay and conditions, it was legal.
The case did reiterate however that derecognition was possible, leading the PDA to conduct a lengthy campaign to kill off the yellow union.
Around 6,890 people were included in the overall Boots bargaining unit as of this year, of whom around 1,600 were thought to be members of the BPA and because the law sets a very high bar for derecognition of 40%, the PDA needed to get nearly 2,800 votes to push the association out. The union squeaked a victory with 2,826 voting Yes to derecognition and 436 voting No.
The vote means that the PDA’s approximately 2,500 members employed at Boots (plus many more working as Locums who did not get a vote) can now apply for full recognition.
Pic: Ben Perkins