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PDA Union

The PDA Union exists to represent, defend and support the interests of members either individually or collectively in respect of their Terms & Conditions in dealing with employers and/or outside organisations.

For many years a small number of powerful organisations have influenced the direction of the pharmacy profession. The Union seeks to address this imbalance and to act as an enabler for employees and locums to reassert their professional autonomy.


In 2008 PDA members, in concluding that they could only secure representation in employment disputes through statutory means, established the PDA Union. The Union runs parallel to the PDA and has its own democratic structure and rules. It naturally shares the same values as PDA and relies on its expertise to enhance the quality of the service to which PDA Union members aspire. Union membership is extended to employees, locums pharmacists, pre-registration graduates and pharmacy undergraduates.  PDA Union members elect the union’s governing body and regional committees.

A new union should apply to the Certification Officer of Trade Unions for listing – this is a pre-cursor to applying for a Certificate of Independence. An Independent Trades Union is one that represents workers, is financially independent and free of employer control or unhealthy influence. By achieving the Independence Status the union obtains a number of statutory rights, including seeking recognition and bargaining agreements with employers where there are more than 50% of relevant employees who are members of the PDA Union. The Certification Officer may refuse a  Trade Union a certificate of independence if s/he believes that the Union is under undue influence from the members’ employers, as was the case when the Boots Pharmacists Association applied. In 2011, the PDA Union was granted Independent Union status by the Certification Officer.

Underwriter support allows PDA members to join PDA Union at no extra cost to their PDA membership. All PDA members are given a choice as to whether they want to join the Union each year they submit their reapplication.

Alternatively membership of the PDA Union is available to non-PDA members on payment of an annual union membership fee paid direct to the union.

What is a union?

A Trades Union is an organisation which employees (or self-employed workers) join to gain greater security at work. In addition, Union membership can provide greater influence collectively in relations with employers and more widely within the industry (profession) than workers have as separate individuals.  There are around 6 million Trade Union members in the UK.

Trades unions can be set up to represent one particular profession or interest group of workers across an industry, such as The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), only for pilots or the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). Historically other unions may have been set up just to represent workers at just one employer and some examples of this remain, particularly in financial services such as Leek United Building Society Staff Association and Nationwide Group Union of Staff. A more generalist union such as GMB or Unite the union, which includes the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, will recruit members doing different roles across many industries and employers.

Healthcare professionals tend to have a union representing just that profession across all employers, such as the British Medical Association (BMA) for doctors, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), College of Podiatry (CoP), Society of Radiographers (SoR), Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and of course, the PDA Union for pharmacists.








The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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