MEDIA RELEASE | 6 AUGUST 2017
Australian unions will hold a National Day of Action on Sunday 6 August to protect the penalty rates of Australian pharmacists who are already among the lowest paid health professionals.
The Day of Action will action will focus attention on the second largest Group of pharmacy businesses under Sigma, including Amcal, with Sigma owned pharmacy brands representing about 20 per cent of the sector.
The union representing professional pharmacists, Professionals Australia, says the campaign has had early success with hundreds of pharmacies around Australia already making the decision to continue paying penalty rates.
Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton said MyChemist, Chemist Warehouse, UFS Dispensaries and several independent operators have decided to ignore the unfair decision of the Fair Work Commission for existing staff, and others are taking steps to follow suit.
“We want to see the whole sector move to protect the penalty rates of their existing and future staff and the union movement will use its collective 1.7 million members in a campaign to encourage consumers to only shop at pharmacies that pay penalty rates.
He said despite the 5-year university degree and the important role they play in the health system, pharmacists are among the lowest paid workers in Australia.
“This is one of the most important parts of the health workforce, where training is comparable with a doctor, yet they earn as little as $27 per hour, and now they’re having their penalty rates cut.”
Professionals Australia is also running a case in the Fair Work Commission to rectify the low rates of pay in the sector in the first ‘work value’ case brought to the Commission since the successful Pay Equity decision for community service workers run by the ASU under Sally McManus’ leadership which succeeded in raising pay across the sector in 2012.
The Fair Pay for Pharmacists case proposes to raise the pay of professional community pharmacists by 30 per cent across the board.
“The role of pharmacist in our health system has increased over the years to include health consultations, vaccinations and script management – particularly for older people and the rising population with chronic conditions. Pay has not increased to reflect that change.
“On graduation, pharmacists’ median starting salaries are the lowest of all bachelor degree graduates, alongside artists and below every other health workforce.
“As they go through their career it doesn’t get much better with entitlements of $901.30 per week when they are fully registered to practice, which is less than a graduate nurse.”
“It’s time that we properly recognised the role pharmacists play in our health system – protecting penalty rates is a first step and ultimately pharmacists need a substantial pay rise.”
Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617