26 October 2018 #Employment
The long-running legal battle over union recognition for Boots pharmacists has finally concluded. The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has decided this month that Boots pharmacists can be collectively represented by an independent trade union.
The interesting point to note is that the CAC was persuaded that the support for derecognition of the in-house union, with which Boots only consulted on relatively minor matters, was itself sufficient to demonstrate likely majority support for recognition of the independent union for negotiation on pay, hours and holidays.
One factor in this decision was the contrasting trends in membership of the in-house and independent unions while the litigation was ongoing. Even though it had access to the workforce and was promoted by the company, the in-house union was losing members. At the same time, more employees were joining the independent union despite having to pay subscriptions at a time when the union was not able to negotiate on their behalf.
This shows that even though workers have to apply for derecognition of an in-house union before an independent union can apply to be recognised by the employer, the CAC is not operating the system in order to throw up extra hurdles to recognition of an independent trade union for collective bargaining purposes.
It also shows the importance of employers ensuring that any employment engagement programs they have in place are effective and meet the needs of the workforce.