Pay talks covering 6,000 pharmacists employed by Boots, ongoing since the summer, reach a crucial point as PDAU members reject the company offer of a sub-inflationary 2% increase to pay (plus 0.38% lump sum).
Although shareholders of parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance have continued to receive record levels of dividend, pharmacists’ pay has been reduced in real terms.
The PDAU has said that pharmacists in Boots have seen the purchasing power of their income diminish over the last 8 years, due to a series of sub-inflation increases, culminating in a pay freeze last year.
The PDAU submitted a detailed evidence-based claim for improvements to terms and conditions in June 2021 with the key objective of seeing an increase in pay above inflation.
Boots responded with an offer to increase pay rates by 2%, plus a one-off lump sum worth 0.38% and other measures to reward those in the initial stages of their career.
The company have valued the package at 3.25%5. In assessing the offer made by Boots the PDAU uses the CPI figure which currently stands at 3.1%.
Paul Day, PDAU Director commented:
“Pharmacists’ pay at Boots has 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.
”The dispute will now move to the final stage of the procedure agreed between the PDAU and Boots. ACAS will be invited to work with both parties to explore ways that Boots could revise their offer and make an across the board increase higher than the current rate of inflation of 3.1%.
Paul Day added:
“We have listened to what the company have 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. However, the rejection of the current offer by our members does increase the likelihood that Boots’ pharmacists could consider taking some form of industrial action in the coming months. The public relies upon a range of pharmacy services at Boots, such as dispensing prescriptions and flu vaccinations. We call on the company to do everything they can to resolve this dispute as a matter of extreme urgency.”
You can view the Walgreen Boots Alliance latest financial results by clicking here.