Lloyds Pharmacy staff plan further strike action

About 270 workers in dispute with company over pay, conditions and union recognition

Members of the trade union Mandate picketing at Lloyds Pharmacy in Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Rathfarnham, in June. Photograph: Garrett White

Members of the trade union Mandate picketing at Lloyds Pharmacy in Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Rathfarnham, in June. Photograph: Garrett White

 

Pharmacist Lloyds faces further strikes at 40 of its stores here in a row over union recognition and pay at the chain.

About 270 Lloyds workers are in dispute with the pharmacist over pay, conditions and recognition for their trade union, Mandate.

Staff at almost 40 outlets will stage their sixth one-day strike on Friday, while Mandate general secretary John Douglas confirmed that the union has served notice on the company of a further action on July 27th.

Mr Douglas pointed out that Lloyds pays workers less than comparable businesses, such as Boots.

He said customer assistants’ pay begins at €10 an hour, rising to €10.60 after six months and to €11 to €12.50 after a few years, depending on performance.

The union official said that Boots’ pay scale began at €11 an hour and rose to €14 with no link to performance.

Mr Douglas said that Lloyds offered four days sick pay a year while Boots gave 25.

 

Workers want pay increases and incremental scales, a sick-pay scheme, the elimination of zero-hour contracts (which offer staff no certainty), improved leave, and better premiums for working on public holidays.

Lloyds denies that it has zero-hour contracts. The company on Thursday said that it reached agreement on a number of key issues in talks with its colleague representative committee, an internal body with which it deals instead of unions.

Negotiating with itself

These include the introduction of pay scales, long-service recognition, voluntary redundancy, and certainty of hours. Lloyds said that it wants to improve the four days sick pay offered to staff.

However, Mr Douglas said workers were not happy with the deal that the committee negotiated. “It’s the company negotiating with itself,” he pointed out.

He maintained that the company was ignoring a Labour Court recommendation that it recognise Mandate.

 

“Lloyds Pharmacy is happy to take money off the Irish State through very lucrative contracts with the Health Service Executive, 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,” Mr Douglas said.

Lloyds maintains that just a minority of its workers is involved in the union. It employs 900 people in the Republic, and says most of its shops will stay open during Friday’s strike.

However, Mr Douglas said that so far, the strikes had forced 10-12 of the shops involved to close and damaged trade in the others as customers refused to pass the pickets.