Union accuses Lloyds Pharmacy of distorting vote on pay and conditions

Mandate says it was told chain allowed head office staff vote on shop-floor conditions

Lloyds Pharmacy workers picket the chain’s Nutgrove branch in Dublin. About 270 staff in 40 of the chain’s stores are due to strike for the eighth time on Saturday. Photograph: Garrett White

Lloyds Pharmacy workers picket the chain’s Nutgrove branch in Dublin. About 270 staff in 40 of the chain’s stores are due to strike for the eighth time on Saturday. Photograph: Garrett White

 

The union representing striking Lloyds Pharmacy workers says the company distorted a recent vote for improved pay and conditions.

About 270 members of trade union Mandate in 40 of the chain’s stores will strike for the eighth time on Saturday in a dispute over pay and representation.

Mandate yesterday accused Lloyds management of distorting a recent vote run by the staff’s internal colleagues’ representative committee (CRC) in favour of improvements to existing pay and conditions.

Gerry Light, Mandate assistant general secretary, said the union had been told that Lloyds management allowed up to 70 head office staff to vote on shop-floor workers’ conditions.

Lloyds refuses to recognise unions as it says that the CRC is a fair system of staff representation.

The committee recently negotiated improvements to pay rates, which started at €10.60 an hour in some cases, and other conditions. A majority of 52 per cent to 48 per cent voted in favour of this.

Mr Light argued that if reports received by the union were true, then it was “nothing short of a scandal”.

A Lloyds spokesman said that “everyone in the company is affected by improved pay and conditions” and thus had a right to vote.

Recommendation

Mandate wants Lloyds to abide by a Labour Court recommendation calling on both sides to sit down to discuss the issues in the union’s claim.

The organisation also wants an end to what it calls zero-hour contracts. However, Lloyds’s spokesman said the chain never employed people on this basis. He added that the deal negotiated by the CRC included greater certainty for some staff.

The pair clashed over the number of union members in the company and the strikes’ impact.

Mandate says it has 270 members of a possible 750 shop workers. The company estimates that it is closer to 200 out of 930.

Lloyds also says that just five to seven of its 88 stores will close as a result of Saturday’s strike, with opening hours reduced in four or five others.

However, Mr Light warned that the impact would be greater than this. “There will be official pickets outside 40 stores on Saturday,” he said.