29 January 2014
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDA) has been invited by the High Court to make an application for a declaration of incompatibility between UK law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) after the union was refused recognition by Boots Management Services.
The case was brought after the employer made a very minimal collective agreement with another union, which did not cover pay or conditions. As the firm has already recognised a union, there is, under UK law, no requirement for it to recognise the PDA.
However, the PDA argued that the employer had signed a collective agreement in anticipation of PDA applying for statutory recognition and had therefore deliberately avoided negotiating on pay and conditions.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) found that this action was not commensurate with Article 11 of the ECHR and that UK legislation should be read in such a way that Article 11 continues to apply in UK law.
The Article reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
As a result, the CAC felt PDA’s application for recognition with the employer was admissible.
The High Court disagreed that legislation should be purposively read to give full effect to Article 11, but did agree in part that UK law is non-compliant with Article 11.
Final orders on the case will now be held while PDA apply for a declaration of incompatibility between domestic legislation and the ECHR.