Pharmacy in penalty rate debate
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has written to the Fair Work Commission to seek a reduction in the penalty rates payable on weekends and on public holidays. Professional Pharmacists Australia will be fighting any attempts to reduce pharmacists’ pay.
President of Professional Pharmacists Australia, Dr Geoff March, said the Guild’s move would mean pharmacists would lose pay when working on weekends and public holidays.
“Patients expect accessible health care that is underpinned by quality advice. Community pharmacists stand at the forefront of primary care and yet are some of the worst paid health professionals in the country. Pharmacists are more productive than ever before, yet since 2009 their wages have stagnated. It’s time for a pay rise, not a pay cut,” March said.
“The Pharmacy Industry Award already undervalues and underpays pharmacists. We will not support any further erosion of pharmacists pay or conditions,” March said.
“Slashing penalty rates means a reduction in take-home for many pharmacists who work on weekends and public holidays. We are calling on employee pharmacists to join with Professional Pharmacists Australia in fighting this attack on the profession.”
The Guild’s backing for lower wages in community pharmacy is at odds with their apparent support for an expansion of professional services. Professional Pharmacists Australia supports an increasing role for pharmacists in the delivery of health services, but expects this would lead to better, not worse pay outcomes for pharmacists.
March also said the Guild’s move is part of concerted efforts by business to reduce penalty rates across many industries.
“This attack on pharmacists’ pay is part of a wider campaign by powerful employer groups to cut penalty rates in retail, hospitality, hair and beauty, fast food, dry cleaning and laundry, amusements and events, as well as pharmacy.”
“The Guild is a very powerful and well-resourced lobby group; they intend to call around 50 witnesses as part of their case – an indication of just how serious they are. With our members’ support, we’ll be doing everything we can to defend against this attack.” he said.
March said that Professional Pharmacists Australia will be asking members to support its defence of penalty rates, and its wider efforts to lift pay for community pharmacists.
“Professional Pharmacists Australia is putting together a robust defence and is gathering our own evidence as part of the Fair Work Commission’s process. We’ll be doing everything we can to preserve the basic conditions community pharmacists have.”
“We reject that the solution to pharmacy’s problems is to cut salaries. To secure the future of community pharmacy, and the role that pharmacists play in ensuring patients get well and stay healthy, we need to value and reward them as well trained and passionate health professionals.”