On 14 June up to 200 workers at 30 Lloyds Pharmacy stores in the Republic took part in strike action for one hour in a dispute over pay and trade union recognition. Of the 30 stores picketed, a small minority – four stores, were closed during the action, with the remaining majority continuing to trade as normal.
Trade union Mandate members at the chain (13% of the total LloydsPharmacy workforce) voted for industrial action in a recent ballot.
Following the first round of industrial action representatives from the union said that they would hold a further strike.
”We had over 200 people [from 30 stores] on the picket today but unfortunately, it is looking likely at this point that a strike will take place next Friday,”
David Gibney, communications officer for Mandate Trade Union said.
Mandate plans to escalate its protest by increasing the picketing time to two hours and involving more stores.
More than 200 workers at 50 Lloyds Pharmacy outlets voted to go on strike after the retailer rejected a recommendation from the Labour Court that it negotiate with trade union Mandate over pay conditions.
Lloyds Pharmacy and Mandate attended a Labour Court hearing at which the union sought various changes to pay, contracts and annual leave entitlements.
Among its demands were the introduction of pay scales and improved annual leave entitlements and public holiday pay.
The retailer said: “We wish to thank our patients and full team for their understanding and support during this morning’s one-hour industrial action.”
LloydsPharmacy denies Mandates claim that it is not negotiating with staff on pay conditions.
It said that on 23 May, phase one of its discussions with its employee negotiating body – the Colleague Representative Committee (CRC) – took place, resulting in an agreement to increase pay for the full team, the introduction of a new sick pay scheme and the elimination of the minimum wage across its business.
In a statement, the pharmaceutical chain said measures were put in place to minimise the impact of the industrial action.
It said Mandate had decided to strike following a ballot of just 13% of its staff.
The chain said it has agreed to a pay rise backdated to last April for all colleagues; to eliminate payment of the minimum wage; and, to roll out a new sick pay scheme with a Colleague Representative Committee.
It said the committee represents most of its workers and with a majority of colleagues voting in favour of the deal.
“Contrary to deliberately misleading information, we do not have and never had zero-hour contracts”
said the statement.
It said further talks with the worker committee on further pay increments, including the introduction of pay scales are already underway.
Lloyds Pharmacy Director, Pat Watt, said it was extremely regrettable that Mandate has pushed ahead with industrial action, two weeks after the “positive breakthrough”of increased pay and benefits for the workforce.
The company is owned by the McKesson Corporation and is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world with revenues of €168.85bn last year.