According to a representative from Mandate Trade Union, Lloyds Pharmacy workers will strike again next week following the one-hour picket that took place today.
”We had over 200 people [from 30 stores] on the picket today but unfortunately, so 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 next week 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.
As previously reported by Fora, 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 are the introduction of pay scales, the elimination of so-called zero-hour contracts and improved annual leave entitlements and public holiday pay.
A statement from Lloyds to TheJournal.ie confirmed that only four stores closed for the duration of the one-hour strike held today and that all others remained fully operational while the picket took place. 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”.
Lloyds denies 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 an increase in pay for the full team, the introduction of a new sick pay scheme and the elimination of the minimum wage.
Lloyds says that the next stage of negotiations with will take place today.
”As part of this, we have indicated a willingness to explore how further affordable improvements, including pay scales, can be advanced.”
Mandate, however, has been critical of Lloyds’ decision to set up an internal negotiating body.
Mandate – which represents more than 200 workers at the company – told the court that its demands were “no more than what exists” for staff at rival pharmacy chain Boots, which recognises the union.
Zero hour contracts
One of the issues Mandate says workers were protesting against today is the so-called zero-hour contracts.
A spokesperson for Lloyds pharmacy told TheJournal.ie that they’ve never had zero-hour contracts.
“We do not have and never have had zero hours contracts. To suggest otherwise is deliberately divisive.
“All part-time employees know six weeks in advance their working hours. On average, part-time employees work 25 hours a week.”
A copy of a contract shared by Mandate states: “Your normal hours of work are flexible as agreed with your Manager, spread over up [sic] 5 days between Monday and Sunday and may include late night and weekend work.”