Australian pharmacists have issued concerns about apparent plans by Tony Abbott to “back” applications to remove the penalty rates paid to pharmacists for working outside normal business hours.
Australia’s union of pharmacists, Professional Pharmacists Australia has called on all political parties to support the existing penalty rate system.
CEO of Professional Pharmacists Australia, Chris Walton, has called on the Pharmacy Guild to rule out using government resources to water down the pay and conditions available to professional pharmacists, should Mr Abbott win the election.
News reports today quote Mr Abbott saying:
“I am confident that if the government were to back, for argument’s sake, applications to the Fair Work Commission for adjustments in this area it may well be successful.”
“Many Australian pharmacists rely on penalty rates to give them fair compensation for their complex roles and the large responsibility they have to Australian patients,” Mr Walton said.
“Professional pharmacists deserve penalty rates which reflects their extra efforts to help Australian patients at night and on weekends.
“This seems to be a sneaky plan to help cut the pay of pharmacists without any compensation.”
Mr Walton said pharmacists were underpaid compared to other professionals such as engineers and their penalty rates were often the only thing keeping them from leaving the profession.
He called on all political parties to support penalty rates and not throw their resources behind plans to remove them.
“It seems like Mr Abbott plans for the government to pay for lawyers help to reduce penalty rates,” Mr Walton said.
“Why should taxpayers pay for legal challenges to the penalty system that keeps their pharmacies open at night?”