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Community pharmacy trade unions Usdaw and PDA call on Government to facilitate talks on workplace safety

Date: 14 May 2020 The Pharmacists Defence Association and Usdaw have written a joint letter to Health & Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, calling on him to facilitate tripartite discussion between government, community pharmacy employer representatives and the trade unions to agree safe working practices across the sector.
With increasing strains on PPE supplies and especially after the Prime Minister’s announcement of changes to the lockdown rules in England, urgent discussions are needed to consider in much more detail the question of how the safety of staff working in community pharmacies can be maintained.

Many community pharmacies have significant challenges with establishing social distancing for safe working in a service that requires most members of the team to be in close proximity to patients. Employees, locums and patients all need to know that community pharmacy is a safe place.

As is normal with NHS employers and across many sectors of industry, the legitimate representatives of employers and employees should sit down with government to agree acceptable arrangements going forward.

Daniel Adams - Usdaw National Officer said: “Usdaw’s absolute priority is the safety of our members and we have emphasised safety first in the discussions we’ve had with the Government across all sectors. So we are keen to work with the PDA to ensure the right policies and practices are in place to make workplaces safe.

“Our members in pharmacies and the pharmaceutical supply chain are key workers providing essential services and must be able to work safely, so we urge the Government to engage with us.”

Mark Koziol - PDA Chair said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Usdaw, our knowledge of pharmacy and their experience of retail settings is a powerful voice for the whole pharmacy team.

“There are a plethora of organisations in pharmacy and each has a role to play. It is critical however that the conversation about health and safety in the workplace involves the right stakeholders. It must be those who have proven expertise and a legitimate mandate under employment legislation.

“The views of employees, as represented by independent trade unions needs to be in the heart of those discussions. If the pharmacy team still feel unsafe at work it will be us they come to for advice and it will be us that
will potentially support claims against employers.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Joint PDA and Usdaw letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: https://www.the-pda.org/wp-content/uploads/20200514-Joint-Community-Pharmacy-union-letter-to-Matt-Hancock.pdf
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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