More than two hundred employees of Lloyd’s Pharmacy in its fifty branches in the Republic are voting on whether they will take industrial action following the company’s refusal to negotiate with their trade union, Mandate.
The union has called for a ballot. In response the company is using its tame in-house workers’ group to hold its own ballot.
Lloyd’s Pharmacy is part of one of the largest pharmaceutical and health products companies in the world, McKesson Corporation of San Francisco.
On the 18th of April the Labour Court issued a recommendation to the management of Lloyd’s Pharmacy stating that the company should negotiate with Mandate in relation to pay and conditions of employment. The company refused to respond to this request, leaving the workers with no alternative but to ballot for strike action.
Mandate had lodged a comprehensive claim on behalf of its members in February 2017, covering a range of conditions of employment, including:
- a fair pay increase
- the introduction of incremental pay scales in all grades
- improvements in annual leave entitlements and public-holiday premiums
- greater security of working hours (eliminating zero-hour contracts)
- the introduction of a sickness pay scheme.
Rather than negotiate with Mandate, the company set out on a cynical campaign to ensure that their employees never have the right to be represented by an independent trade union of their choice. Instead it set up an internal staff representative body, so it can claim that the union is not the sole representative body.
Lloyd’s has admitted to subsidising the new body to the tune of €10,000; and this body is now conducting its own ballot for acceptance of a different deal from the one being pursued by Mandate.
Under the company ballot with its tame house committee, Lloyd’s workers must provide their name and employee number, so there is no guarantee that their vote is confidential. Members have also told Mandate that they feel intimidated into participating in the process, because of the collection of their data for this process. If they don’t participate in this sham ballot they feel they will have a black mark against their name.
Gerry Light, assistant general secretary of Mandate, stated that there is only one legitimate ballot taking place in Lloyd’s Pharmacy, and that is the one being conducted by Mandate. It is important that all workers have a democratic say in their future at work, and this is only possible by putting themselves in a position to vote in the anonymous ballots.