The PDA Union, which represents employed and locum pharmacists across Northern Ireland is the latest independent trade union to affiliate to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). Congress is the largest civil society organisation on the island of Ireland, representing and campaigning on behalf of some 800,000 working people across the island of Ireland, of which over 200,000 work in Northern Ireland.

The PDA Union’s affiliation will commence in January 2021 and will amplify the voice at work of employed and locum pharmacists. The PDA Union represents pharmacy students, pre-registration trainees and pharmacists in community pharmacy, hospitals, health boards, GP federations and practising elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Leon O’Hagan, a Primary Care Pharmacist working in Banbridge and PDA Union National Executive Committee member, said: “Just as pharmacists achieve more by acting collectively as the PDA Union, so trade unions achieve more by acting collectively in trade union federations, such as the ICTU. Our affiliation adds another route through which we can champion the interests of our members.”

Congress is the recognised national centre for trade unions in Ireland and as the voice of working people it seeks to achieve a just society – one which recognises the rights of all workers and citizens to enjoy the prosperity and fulfilment which leads to a good quality of life.

Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary of ICTU and its leader in Northern Ireland added:
“We welcome the PDA to our family of affiliates. Workers are always and without exception better off when they combine their strength and intelligence and act together. The same principle operates for their organised trade unions as they can act collectively in the political, social and economic spheres, and use that solidarity for the benefit of every working person.”

Congress shapes and influences policy in two jurisdictions in key areas, such as taxation, employment legislation, education and social policy.

The direct professional relationship between the pharmacist and their patient is important with many of the factors that impact upon the working environment being shaped internationally. Pharmacist trade unions recognise that just as the largest employers are increasingly multinational, the employees need an international voice too.

The PDA Union is already a member of the EPhEU – the European federation for community pharmacist trade unions. Congress is the sole Irish affiliate of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) – the representative body for trade unions at European level and is also affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This further connects the PDA Union with colleagues facing shared issues in other jurisdictions.

Leon O’Hagan concluded: “We are delighted to have joined Congress at a time that more and more employees in all sectors are recognising the need for trade unions as the consequences of the pandemic impact upon employment. Affiliation to ICTU will be a benefit to pharmacists and provides the structure through which we can contribute to activity that helps others too.”