STAFF from Boots in Coleraine went on strike yesterday (Monday) in protest over changes in pay rates and conditions.
The strike was organised by SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union) after staff members were informed that their pay would be cut from double time to time and a half for Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Strikes at other Boots stores in the Province have already taken place.
Teri Cregan from SIPTU told The Times that there had been over twenty grievance letters handed in by the Coleraine staff relating to the changes, which she claims the local staff have not been consulted about
“This is affecting staff that have been in Boots in Coleraine for many years.
“Some of the girls have worked in the store for 20 years or more.
“The company have decided to cut their rates of pay without any consultation.
“They have had no consideration for the work-life balance of the workers.
“Strikes have taken place in other stores, there was a 100 percent walk out in Cookstown a few weeks ago.
“The company is claiming that the changes are being made to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, and that they are all on the same rate of pay for Bank Holidays and Sundays.
“Boots are a huge company, they made £1 billion last year, so these cuts are certainly not justified, “ said the Union spokesperson.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Boots told The Times: “ Boots UK has embarked on a journey to continue to improve the quality of customer care in all its stores.
“As part of this we are entering into a dialogue with all our colleagues, including our pharmacists, to reach a best fit to match our customer needs with the needs of our people. “We have reviewed our rates of pay and benefit packages to ensure we are market competitive.
“This has resulted in some changes to premium rates to ensure we remain competitive, and to reward our best colleagues and pharmacists for their commitment to customer care.
“We are in the early stages of what is a significant journey to best meet the needs of our customers.
“At Boots UK our colleagues are at the heart of our organisation. We have recently completed our engagement survey with all our colleagues, and our pharmacists are showing record levels of engagement with the company.
“We are absolutely committed, through these changes, to continue to develop.”