Boots pharmacists have voted to reject the company’s offer of a two per cent pay increase with 83 per cent calling on their union to refer the matter to arbitrating body ACAS, with industrial action potentially on the cards.
The offer of a two per cent increase for pharmacists plus a 0.38 per cent lump sum (and additional payments for early career pharmacists) falls below the current inflation rate of 3.1 per cent, the PDA said, claiming that the offer comes at a time when parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance is paying shareholders “record levels of dividend”.
Other Boots employees are to receive a two per cent increase without the additional lump sum.
After accepting a pay freeze last year due to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, the union told members this week: “We are not prepared to see another year where the pay increase for Boots pharmacists is below inflation and your purchasing power reduces in real terms.”
Pharmacy Network News has seen a message from the PDA to Boots pharmacists telling them the company rejected the PDA’s call for a 3.25 per cent increase and “despite the best efforts of ACAS continue to insist on a settlement that has been overwhelmingly rejected”.
The PDA said that while industrial action “is never considered lightly… now it is a possibility”. Potential scenarios include working to rule and time limited strikes, Boots pharmacists were told.
This is “some way off,” the PDA said, explaining that talks are ongoing and that union members would go through a formal ballot process to decide whether they proceed with industrial action.
PDA director Paul Day said: “We have listened to what the company has said during negotiations and revised our original claim in response. We remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached that will meet pharmacists’ expectations and the objectives set out by Boots. We believe the company has the resources to make a revised offer and avoid this dispute continuing.
Asked if he was concerned about the impact any industrial action would have on patients, Mr Day told PNN: “We are an organisation of healthcare professionals. Every decision the PDA makes considers and prioritises the impact on patients – but what we are doing is responding to the views of the overwhelming majority of our members.”
Boots has been approached for comment.