Tesco feeling the heat of locum boycott, says One Voice

Tesco logo outside Park Wembley store

The locum boycott of UK supermarket pharmacy Tesco is getting a lot of support – to the point where there may be an unofficial raising of pay

The boycott was planned for September 10-24 by the newly formed One Voice Pharmacy group, in response to Tesco’s June announcement that it would cut its Monday to Friday hourly locum rate from £19.50 to £18 in some locations.

One Voice Pharmacy co-founder Salman Saeed told the UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist that at least a few hundred pharmacists are actively taking part in the boycott while grassroots support has grown.

“We have even had support from locum agencies,” he told C+D.

He said the boycott was not just about pay, but also to raise concerns about working conditions.

One Voice Pharmacy wrote on its Facebook page earlier this month that Tesco was already feeling the effects of the boycott before it began.

“Tesco have had so many shift cancellations and locums refusing to cover shifts that they have finally turned to agencies to cover their shifts,” the group wrote. “This was previously unheard of!

“Tesco have returned to paying ‘plus two’ (and more!) to tempt locums.

“This has not been seen for several years! Please understand, Tesco hope that by officially keeping the rate at £18 but paying more by claiming it as ‘plus 2’, they can avoid having to increase the rate again.

“We must keep pressuring them so much that they finally overturn their terrible rate-reduction decision and amend their rates.”

Linda Yearsley, managing director of agency Team Locum, told C+D that UK locums have seen a 21% decrease in pay over the last five years and that she has seen “a trend of people leaving the profession” earlier than they otherwise might have.

“I think it is fair to say that everybody feels locums are challenged at the moment,” she said.

Australia is also likely to see “a mass exodus of bright young pharmacists” according to a series of King Review submissions regarding low wages, and AJP readers commenting on the issue.

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