President of Professional Pharmacists Australia, Dr Geoff March, today said it was disappointing that the Pharmacy Guild had confirmed in a submission to the Fair Work Commission that they were going to use the review of the Pharmacy Industry Award to attempt to reduce penalty rates.
Dr March said the Guild’s move to reduce penalty rates was a direct contradiction to its call earlier this week for the pharmacy sector to “unite” in the face of a challenging year ahead.
“Penalty rates provide fair compensation to employees who work outside regular hours. Any attack on, or erosion of penalty rates will only fuel division in pharmacy and is something we strongly reject.
Dr March said that he found the Guild’s move on penalty rates “very disappointing”, as it revealed a case of “actions speaking louder than words”.
“This is further bad news for non-owner pharmacists, coming immediately after the Guild’ announcement to cap Medschecks/Diabeteschecks and HMRs,” Dr March said.
“Professional Pharmacists Australia believes that the current Award that sets basic terms and conditions is undervaluing and underpaying pharmacists. We do not support any further erosion of pharmacist pay or conditions.
Move to treat pharmacists the same as hospitality workers
Dr March said that he was “very concerned” that arguments used in the Guild’s submission drew similarities between pharmacy and service and retail industries such as Fast Food, Hospitality and Retail (refer to Pharmacy Guild Submission to FWC, 20 February 2014, Retail Trading and Competition, Clause 46). Further, the Guild’s submission asked the Commission to consider the Pharmacy Industry Award in conjunction with other retail and service industry Awards.
“Despite all the talk about the future of community pharmacy resting with the development of professional services, the Guild demonstrate in their submission that they really believe our future lies in becoming more retail sales orientated,” Dr March said.
“We reject that the answer to the problems pharmacy face is to increase sales volumes and reduce salaries. This only takes pharmacists away from their proper role as providers of vital frontline healthcare for our communities.
“The arguments put forward by the Guild around the similarities between community pharmacy and cosmetics’ discount variety stores, florist shops and pet shops, is of great concern to non-owner pharmacists.
“For the future of community pharmacy, and in knowing the positive contribution that pharmacists can make to improving the lives of patients, we need to value and reward pharmacists for what they are – extremely well trained and passionate health professionals.