The Union’s members voted by a majority of 92 percent in favour of industrial action with a turnout of 74 percent. This follows LloydsPharmacy’s refusal to accept a Labour Court recommendation which stated that the company should negotiate with the workers’ Union.
In February 2017, Mandate had issued a comprehensive claim on behalf of their members covering a range of issues including: a pay increase and incremental pay scales; the introduction of a sick pay scheme; security of hours and the elimination of zero hour contracts; and improvements in annual leave entitlements and public holiday premiums.
Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said:
“Our members do not want to go on strike, but have been left with no other option.”
He added, “LloydsPharmacy workers have repeatedly requested that their employer negotiate with their representatives, Mandate Trade Union. The Labour Court backed the workers’ claim for trade union representation, but the company has defied both the Court and their workers’ wishes.”
Mr Light said this dispute can easily be resolved by the company, but that the initial action could escalate if not dealt with soon by management.
“Our members want independent represention. They want to avail of their human right to be represented by a trade union of their choice and they want respect.”
He added, “LloydsPharmacy need to do the right thing now and agree to negotiate in good faith with Mandate Trade Union and allow their workers the professional and independent representation they deserve. This is not only in the best interests of our members, but it’s also in the best interests of the public who rely on their services, and in the best interests of the company.”
Mr Light explained, “The one thing that was repeatedly raised by our members during the balloting process is that they do not wish to inconvenience the public who need their services, but that they cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the company’s treatment of them.”
Mr Light was critical of the company’s attempts to undermine their workers’ Union.
“When we lodged our claim more than one year ago, the company cynically established their own staff committee. They admitted to the Labour Court that this committee was funded by the company to the tune of €10,000. The company then commenced an internal negotiating process, effectively with themselves,” said Mr Light.
“For a company to go to these lengths to prevent their workers having trade union representation shows that they know independent unions are effective in lifting workers’ conditions of employment. However, it also shows that the company is determined to prevent staff from having an effective voice in their workplace.” he added.
In recent weeks the company’s staff committee announced a balloting process on an offer from the company described by members of Mandate as “insufficient and insulting.”
Mandate also expressed serious concerns about the company’s staff committee’s balloting process.
“The ballot was not anonymous. Workers had to provide their name and their staff number in order to vote, and some felt they would have a “black mark” on their name if they voted against the proposals. Some workers claim they never received notice of the vote, while others were unable to access the voting process,” said Mr Light.
“Despite this, the company’s staff committee announced a very slim majority of 50.6% in favour and 49.4% against the proposals, with a turnout of 64%. This renders their whole process questionable and unsafe.”
He added, “There is now only one way workers in Lloyds Pharmacy can have a say about their future at work and that is by engaging through their trade union, Mandate.”
The manner of industrial action adopted by members of Mandate Trade Union working in LloydsPharmacy will be determined over the coming days.
LloydsPharmacy is owned by the McKesson Corporation which is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world with revenues of €198.5 billion in 2017.
McKesson also own UDG Helthcare (formerly United Drug) which is headquartered in Ireland, and where the workers are afforded their right to trade union representation (SIPTU and Unite represent staff in Ireland).