Staff strike over pay and conditions at 34 Lloyd’s pharmacy branches

‘I’m on €11 an hour and I haven’t had a raise in five years,’ says one striker

Amy Bannon, worker at Lloyds Pharmacy in Nutgrove Shopping Centre, where the staff held an official strike on Friday. Photograph: Garrett White/ The Irish Times

Amy Bannon, worker at Lloyds Pharmacy in Nutgrove Shopping Centre, where the staff held an official strike on Friday. Photograph: Garrett White/ The Irish Times

 

Over 200 staff at Lloyd’s, one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the State, staged a two-hour strike at 34 of its shops on Friday. No branch closed as a result.

The workers, mostly young women, are represented by the Mandate trade union. They are seeking pay increases, an incremental pay-scale, an improved sick-pay scheme and an end to zero-hour contracts which they say some employees have.

The company will not engage with Mandate, which represents about 220 of the company’s 800 retail staff across its 88 branches

Lloyd’s management say they have established a Colleague Representative Council (CRC) as a forum for negotiations, and no further negotiating body is necessary. Mandate claims this is controlled by management.

Management denies the use of zero-hour contracts, saying staff work an average of 25 hours’ per week.

Mandate has tweeted photographs of contracts it says are between Lloyd’s and staff which include the clause: “Your normal hours are flexible as agreed with your manager, spread over five days between Monday and Sunday and may include late night and weekend work.”

With no guaranteed minimum number of hours these amounted to zero-hour contracts and banks would not lend to anyone employed on them, the union says .

Among the eight – seven women and one man - on the picket in Nutgrove shopping centre, Rathfarnham, Dublin on Friday was Amy (30), who did not wish to give her surname.

“I’ve been with the company 11 years and am on just over €11 an hour. We haven’t had a raise in over five years.”

Debbie, who also did not want to give her surname, enjoys working at Lloyd’s where she has been for 10 years. “None of us wants to be on strike but we have to live, with mortgages and kids and all. We are not backing down now. We’ll be out for three hours next Friday if senior management still won’t talk to us.” Asked about the CRC, she said: “We want to be represented by Mandate.”

Several customers signed a petition supporting the workers, among them Chris Checkley (86) who said she got all her “bits and bobs in this chemist...If they have to strike they have to strike. It’s a shame in this day and age”.

A Lloyd’s spokeswoman said as of May 23rd pay had been increased and backdated to April 1st; a new sick pay scheme had been introduced; the minimum wage had been “eliminated” and this been “endorsed in a ballot of all employees”. This was “phase one” and negotiations with the CRC would continue.

In addition, she said all staff had got six weeks’ notice of working hours and worked on average 25 hours per week for many years.