Mandate call on Lloyds Pharmacy to prevent strike by respecting their workers’ rights

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Union release evidence of zero hour contract issued by LloydsPharmacy

Mandate Trade Union has written to management in LloydsPharmacy urging them to prevent tomorrow’s industrial action from occurring by agreeing to negotiate with their workers’ representatives Mandate.

“Preventing this dispute is in the best interests of the company, their workers and the public who rely on LloydsPharmacy for their medication,” said Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary.

Up to 200 workers in 30 LloydsPharmacy stores across Ireland will begin a one hour strike at 10am tomorrow morning. Mandate say the number of stores involved in the industrial action may increase next week if the company does not accept the Labour Court’s recommendation and agree to negotiate with their workers’ representatives.

In a letter to Pat Watt, Marketing and Sales Director in LloydsPharmacy, Mr Light puts the blame for the industrial action on the company following the its attempts to blame staff for any negative impact the strike may have on the public.

“The responsibility for any negative consequences in this regard lies firmly with the employer and its refusal to allow a significant amount of its workforce be formally represented by Mandate Trade Union,” said Mr Light.

Mr Light also warned the company to refrain from making false statements about the industrial action.

“LloydsPharmacy have encouraged staff to contact GP practices informing them that Mandate is partaking in ‘unofficial industrial action’. This is patently not true and the company must rectify this grievous allegation immediately.”

Zero hour contracts

The company has also released public statements saying they “do not have and never had zero-hour contracts.” Mandate has now released a LloydsPharmacy contract which has no agreed minimum hours and the Union says these types of contracts are and have been prevalent in LloydsPharmacy.

The contract states: “Your normal hours of work are flexible as agreed with your Manager, spread over up 5 days between Monday and Sunday and may include late night and weekend work.”

Addressing claims that Mandate only represents 13 percent of the workforce in LloydsPharmacy, Mr Light said, “again, the company is less than honest in their communications.

“Mandate represents more than 30 percent of the pharmacists and retail staff in LloydsPharmacy and this number is growing every day. The Labour Court has already indicated this figure is ‘substantially representative’ and has urged management to enter negotiations with their workers union. What is so frustrating and disappointing for us and our members is that LloydsPharmacy is spending so much time and energy on anti-union tactics rather than resolving this dispute in a responsible manner for all concerned.”

He added, “And all that requires is a willingness to respect their workers’ right to be represented by a trade union of their choice.”

In his letter to Pat Watt, Mr Light said: “It is clear that tomorrow’s industrial action is entirely avoidable and it is equally clear what has to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen. The principle responsibility in this regard rests firmly with the employer and once again I remind you that representatives of this Union remain, at the shortest notice, available to engage with management representatives to bring about an agreed and mutually acceptable outcome to the issues currently in dispute. For the last time I would strongly urge that the employer avails of this opportunity.”

Issues in dispute

LloydsPharmacy has refused to engage with their workers’ representatives, Mandate Trade Union, about working conditions. The Labour Court issued a recommendation stating:

the Court recommends that the parties engage in order to seek agreement in relation to the matters raised by the Trade Union…”

Those matters include:

  • 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.

Anti-union tactics

When Mandate Trade Union lodged a claim for improved working conditions in February 2017, LloydsPharmacy cynically established their own internal staff committee. The company 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. This is a well-known anti-union tactic employed by many US multi-national companies.

The company have since made an offer of pay increases and the introduction of a sick pay scheme through the company staff committee. Mandate members say this offer is insufficient and have questioned the balloting process for the offer which was neither anonymous nor did it allow all workers to participate in the vote. Despite this, the company’s proposals were only passed by a vote in favour of 50.6 percent with 49.4 percent opposed among a turnout of only 65 percent.


LloydsPharmacy Ireland operates 88 stores across the Republic of Ireland with approximately 800 staff in their retail business. They are owned by the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, McKesson Corporation, which has revenues of $198.5 billion (€169 billion – more than double the annual revenue of the Irish government).

The list of stores affected by tomorrow’s industrial action is available here.

Sign the petition calling on the company to engage with the workers through their representatives by clicking here.