A case of value


hand out for money - coins in palm

The pharmacists’ union says it will ‘fight for every cent’ in the current work value case, but the Guild maintains there has not been an increase in workload

This week AJP covered the Fair Work Commission decision that rejected raising the pharmacist award based on overall workload.

A claim had been made by the pharmacists’ union (PPA, formerly known as APESMA) for a rise in pharmacy award rates, arguing that there has been an increase in the skills, knowledge and responsibilities of pharmacists since their work value was last considered in 1998.

In a decision handed down on Friday, the Commission found that it was “not satisfied that there has been a fundamental change in the work of pharmacists since 1998, or in their skills or level of responsibility, in the way suggested by [PPA]”.

However it was satisfied that there has been some increase in the work value of pharmacists since 1998 in relation to provision of vaccinations and emergency contraception, higher numbers of S3 medicines and “a general increase in the level of responsibility and accountability of pharmacists”.

The Commission was also satisfied that there had been an increase in work value associated with the introduction of Home Medicine Reviews (HMRs) and Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMRs) that justified a discrete adjustment to award remuneration in the form of an allowance.

Following an initial five-day hearing in May, the Commission has requested further submissions as to how its findings should be reflected in an adjustment to remuneration.

PPA labelled the decision by the Fair Work Commission to reject key aspects of their case as “proof the rules are broken for working people”.

“It seems incomprehensible that such well trained and critical health professionals can be paid less than $50,000 per annum,” said PPA President Geoff March.

“The model of discount pharmacies running the show in a race to the bottom on wages will continue until the Pharmacy Guild comes to a sector-wide agreement with workers through their union.”

The case hinges on the argument that pharmacists “work value” has increased over time with greater responsibilities, educational requirements and workload – with PPA arguing that pay has not kept up with change.

Jacki Baulch, PPA Industrial Officer, confirmed that the Commission’s concessions mean that pharmacists will have access to some increase in pay, but adds that “it won’t be in the order of what PPA sought and what we firmly believe pharmacists are worth”.

“If pharmacists can’t get a pay rise given the strength of this case, no one can under this system” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.

“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.

“We’ll go back into the Commission and fight for every cent we can get pharmacists through this case, given the Commission have recognised some increase in work value,” said Mr Walton.

Meanwhile Dr March said pharmacists need to “take matters into their own hands”.

“The election is not far off and pharmacists should vote to change the rule,” said Mr March.

“If you need an argument for sector-wide bargaining, here it is.”

However the Pharmacy Guild maintained its original argument that changes to the work of pharmacists have been evolutionary in nature but have not resulted in a significant net addition to the work value requirements of a pharmacist, as claimed by the union.

“The Pharmacy Guild notes that the Fair Work Commission, in arriving at its decision in the work value case, has found that although the mix of work being performed and skills being exercised has changed since 1998, and some skills for which pharmacists have always been trained are not utilised in a more intense and systematised fashion, there has not been the fundamental change in the work of pharmacists since 1998 which would justify wage increases of the order claimed by [PPA],” it told AJP in a statement.

“The Guild acknowledges that the role of a pharmacist involves change, as health services, treatment methods, medical information, community expectations, technology and procedures change or are refined to better deliver health care services to the community.

“The Guild will be consulting with members before filing submissions to address the Commission’s questions,” it said.

“We are committed to working constructively with the Commission and relevant stakeholders in delivering an outcome that is in the interests of members and recognises the vital professional role of pharmacist staff.”

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10 Comments

  1. Ex-Pharmacist
    20/12/2018

    The Guild puts a lot of time, effort & money into indoctrinating “early career pharmacists” to believe they (PGA) act for the good of the “profession” e.g. conferences (APP, Pharmacy connect), Awards (pharmacy of the year, pharmacist of the year, early career pharmacist of the year etc.), Publications (This publication AJP, retail pharmacy magazine), media releases & campaigns, just to name a few. These indoctrinated employee pharmacists, as well as interns and current & prospective pharmacy students would do well to read this story carefully, and understand the Guild’s duplicitous dealings on this and many other critical issues. In summary, the Guild spent big sums of money (from pharmacy owner membership funds) to vigorously oppose (in court) an increase to the pitifully inadequate and widely lambasted pharmacist award, which to this day sets an hourly rate at less than $30/hour for an experienced pharmacist. Pharmacy Guild members, hang your collective heads in shame. You are a disgrace.

    • Sheshtyn Paola
      20/12/2018

      Hi Ex-Pharmacist,
      I’m concerned as to why AJP listed as a Guild publication in your comment?
      AJP is not owned by the Guild.
      Kind regards,
      Sheshtyn Paola (author, AJP)

      • Ex-Pharmacist
        20/12/2018

        Hi Sheshtyn, thanks for your concern and here is my reasoning.
        – AJP is published by APPco (Australian Pharmaceutical Publishing Company)
        – APPco is 100% owned by PDL (Pharmaceutical Defence Limited)
        – PDL directors comprises of several prominent pharmacy owners with strong links to the Guild (https://www.pdl.org.au/cont….
        – PDL CEO is ex Guild Insurance GM of 20 years
        – PDL Chairman has run a company that is 50% Guild owned for almost 30 years, and also a pharmacy owner / Guild member.

        • Chris_Brooker
          20/12/2018

          Ex-pharmacist, PDL has no involvement at any level with the editorial direction or coverage of AJP.
          AJP is independent of any pharmacy body or association, and I believe the stories we cover, and the efforts we make to balance the direction of our coverage, should indicate this independence
          Kind regards, Chris Brooker (editor, AJP)

        • Chris_Brooker
          20/12/2018

          Ex-pharmacist, PDL has no involvement at any level with the editorial direction or coverage of AJP.
          AJP is independent of any pharmacy body or association, and I believe the stories we cover, and the efforts we make to balance the direction of our coverage, should indicate this independence
          Kind regards, Chris Brooker (editor, AJP)

      • Red Pill
        20/12/2018

        Isn’t AJP a PDL publication, which is in partnership with Guild insurance?

        • Chris_Brooker
          20/12/2018

          To clarify, PDL is not owned by the Pharmacy Guild, and AJP is independent of any editorial involvement from PDL, from the Guild or indeed from any pharmacy body or authority
          Kind regards, Chris Brooker (editor, AJP)

          • Red Pill
            20/12/2018

            Thanks for clarifying that Chris. We definitely appreciate all your hard work and unbiased news. And glad to see you are an independent outlet.

        • Chris_Brooker
          20/12/2018

          To clarify, PDL is not owned by the Pharmacy Guild, and AJP is independent of any editorial involvement from PDL, from the Guild or indeed from any pharmacy body or authority
          Kind regards, Chris Brooker (editor, AJP)

        • Chris_Brooker
          20/12/2018

          To clarify, PDL is not owned by the Pharmacy Guild, and AJP is independent of any editorial involvement from PDL, from the Guild or indeed from any pharmacy body or authority
          Kind regards, Chris Brooker (editor, AJP)

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