Professional Pharmacists Australia has called on the Guild to join its call to address the impact of discount pharmacy operators by arguing for a significant lift in the Pharmacy Industry Award.
Thursday, 29 May 2014
The call came in response to the Guild’s Executive Director, David Quilty, arguing in Forefront that reducing penalty rates was needed to compete with discount pharmacy, specifically:
“Without a doubt, penalty rates is the industrial relations issue most commonly raised by Guild members, the majority of whom pay their staff well above the award, often putting themselves at a cost disadvantage to a discount chain whose pharmacist wages are considerably lower.
Professional Pharmacists Australia President, Dr Geoff March said, “The best way to tackle the issue of discount chain pharmacies paying low wages is to lift the Award, not reduce it.
“If the Award rate is reduced, be it the base rate or penalty rates, then this will simply mean making a change that would benefit both the discount chains as well as Guild members – it will not assist with the competitive advantage enjoyed by discount operators.
“In actual fact the best way to assist the owners suffering a cost disadvantage to discount chains is to significantly increase the Award. Such a change would not affect the owners paying decent salaries but would impact on discount operators.
“If discount chains were forced to pay wages more commensurate with the rest of the industry this would relieve a great deal of pressure on other operators and be of significant benefit non-owner pharmacists working in those stores.
“As the Guild’s own submission to the Productivity Commission arguing for a reduction in penalty rates shows, salaries as a percentage of operating expenses have remained stagnant since 2009. This mirrors the results from our annual Remuneration Survey which shows salaries not increasing over the same period.
“This is a wonderful chance for pharmacy to work together on what non-owner pharmacists tell us is one of the biggest threats to community pharmacy, namely discount chains.
“We call on the Guild to join us in arguing for an increase to the Award that would benefit non-owner pharmacists, Guild members and the future of the Industry,” Dr Geoff March said.