“It’s so hard to make ends meet,” says pharmacy worker with 23 years experience earning €10.60 per hour.
Up to 270 Lloyds Pharmacy workers in almost 40 stores across Ireland will participate in their sixth day of industrial action tomorrow (Friday, 20th July).
The strike takes place as Lloyds management continues their refusal to implement a Labour Court recommendation which stated that the company should allow their workers trade union representation.
Andrea Delgado who works in the Knocklyon store and has 9 years service with the company and 23 years experience in the industry said pay is the big issue for her.
“I’d just like to be able to buy something nice every now and then, like a pair of jeans, without having to worry about whether I can afford it,” Ms Delgado said.
“We work for the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world and we don’t earn a living wage of €11.90 per hour. Last year I was on €9.50 per hour and I got a 5c increase in January, but only because the National Minimum Wage was increased.”
Ms Delgado explained that she has now had her pay increased to €10.60 per hour because her and her colleagues joined a union and took industrial action, but it’s still not enough.
“Everything is going up in price. It’s so hard to make ends meet. After I pay my phone bill, pay for insurance and provide for my young daughter, the wages I’m on don’t allow me to get ahead. We’re not asking for anything outrageous, just to be paid a decent living wage.”
Ms Delgado said the company can easily afford to improve pay and conditions of employment for their workers.
“In this day and age, for a company of this size, where the CEO of the owner company is earning €14 million per year, Lloyds management should treat us with the dignity and respect that we deserve. We meet all of our targets. We bring in customers and it’s the high level of service that we provide that keeps them coming back.”
Ms Delgado explained how she can’t afford to be sick because of the inadequate sick pay provisions in Lloyds Pharmacy.
“The company took our sick pay scheme off us years ago without any agreement. What it meant was many of us come into work despite being ill. I came into work with swine flu a few years ago because I really can’t afford to be sick.”
The strike relates to a claim by Mandate Trade Union on behalf of its 270 members employed by LloydsPharmacy which includes:
Lloyds Pharmacy workers have participated in five work stoppages over the last five weeks.
John Douglas, Mandate Trade Union General Secretary said:
“Our members are determined to win the respect they deserve. In recent years we have heard a lot of talk about closing the gender pay gap. These workers, 92 percent of whom are women, are trying to do just that, but are being refused their rights and are being forced to strike. We cannot tackle low pay and the gender pay gap without adequate collective bargaining legislation.”
Mr Douglas concluded by criticising the anti-union attitude of , “Lloyds Pharmacy are happy to take money off the Irish State through very lucrative contracts with the Health Service Executive (HSE), but refuse to acknowledge another arm of the State, the Irish Labour Court, which has told them to allow their workers the right to representation. This hypocricy isn’t lost on our members, and it’s not lost on the public or our politicians. They cannot have it both ways.”
Mr Douglas said if the company continues to refuse their workers the right to representation, the Union will be organising more actions in the coming weeks.
NOTE TO EDITOR
LloydsPharmacy is Ireland’s largest pharmaceutical chain operating 88 stores across the country with approximately 800 workers employed in their pharmacies.
LloydsPharmacy is owned by the McKesson Corporation which is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world with revenues of €169 billion in 2017 – more than double the revenue of the Irish state.
McKesson also own UDG Healthcare (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).
A full list of striking stores is available here.
Lloyds Pharmacy argues it does not operate zero hour contracts despite Mandate publishing a number of the contracts. A number of employment experts have also stated that the contracts do not guarantee any hours of employment for workers.
The Company also argues that it already negotiates with an internal staff representative body, however this body was established by management, is funded by the company to the tune of €10,000 and has never allowed elections to take place.