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Boots responds to rejection of pharmacist pay offer

By Carolyn Scott

25 Oct 2021

Boots UK is ‘disappointed’ that the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) has rejected a proposed 2% pay rise, the company has said.

The PDA Union announced on Friday (22 October) that it had rejected the proposed deal, plus a 0.38% lump sum, on the basis that it was below inflation (at 3.1%).

Although shareholders of the parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) have continued to receive record levels of dividend, pharmacists’ pay has reduced in real terms, said a PDAU statement.

WBA announced a strong performance across its international operations in October, ‘largely driven by Boots, which saw a significant uplift in both retail and pharmacy sales alongside an increase in market share’.

Commenting on the pay negotiations today, a spokesperson at Boots said: ‘We have offered a substantial pay and development package that directly addresses the key areas raised by the PDAU and, in fact, our total proposed pay increase, weighted towards pharmacists at the start of their career, exceeds the PDAU’s aggregate request.

‘This is in addition to the year-end bonus payment that all pharmacists, as Boots team members, will be granted in November 2021. 

‘Over the course of the last five years, we have awarded overall pay rises to our pharmacists which have exceeded the consumer price index as well as paying bonuses to them in the majority of those years.

‘For these reasons, we are disappointed by the PDAU’s decision to decline our proposal. We have been extremely willing negotiating partners and have proactively and positively engaged with the PDAU and our pharmacists and will continue to do so.

Paul Day, PDAU director, suggested that pharmacists’ pay at Boots had reduced in real terms for several years.

‘Last year our members accepted a pay freeze in recognition of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. This year, however, it is time for Boots to recognise the significant contribution our members make to keeping the business successful while also delivering essential healthcare to the public. The union’s objective has been to secure a fair, above inflation increase for everyone covered by these talks, but unfortunately the company’s current offer fails to do that.’

‘We believe the company has the resources to make a revised offer and avoid this dispute continuing,’ said Mr Day.

Boots’ pharmacists could ‘consider taking some form of industrial action in the coming months,’ said the PDAU.  

Boots is committed to reaching an agreement with the PDAU on their pay and benefits, it said, adding that Boots pharmacists play a ‘vital role supporting patients and communities across the UK’.

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