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Boots & PDA in arbitration over £1k lump sum proposal

Negotiations between the PDA Union and Boots UK have been referred to ACAS after they were unable to reach an agreement over a proposed lump sum payment for Boots pharmacists.

Following an update from Boots in early September outlining plans to implement a company-wide pay freeze with no increases made in November, the PDAU made a counter offer for its members to receive a one-off £1,000 lump sum payment.

This is intended to “reflect the commitment and professionalism shown by members during the Covid-19 crisis” said the union, which also proposed suspending pay discussions until January 2021 with a view to agreeing pay increases from April next year – “in effect limiting the pay freeze to six months rather than 12”.

The PDAU, which has been in pay discussions with the multiple since July, said it was “mindful of payments made by Boots’ competitors to their pharmacists”.

However, while “some progress” has been made on other aspects of the union’s pay claim – which also calls for Northern Ireland-only pay rates to be abolished – the PDAU said yesterday the talks had stumbled on the issue of a lump sum payment.

The PDAU has decided to refer the matter to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, an independent public body whose roles is to help in industrial disputes.

The union acknowledged there was “no guarantee” that ACAS could help it secure a payment for Boots pharmacists, but said it viewed the arbitrator’s approach as “professional, realistic and imaginative”.

In an October 7 joint statement, Boots and the PDAU said the process of engaging ACAS would take “a few weeks” and that a further statement will be issued once the arbitration discussions conclude.

“Both parties acknowledge the challenge of concluding negotiations in the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic and current economic conditions, while also recognising the hard work and commitment of pharmacists during what has been an unusual and difficult time for colleagues,” said the statement.

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