Pharmacy staff paying the price for government’s failure, Opposition leader says
Workers covered under the pharmacy award are among the 700,000 Australians set to pay the price for federal government inaction, the opposition claims.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on 22 June, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “In nine days from now, in the world that the Prime Minister envisages for this country, if you earn $1 million, you are going to get a $16,400 tax cut, courtesy of the Turnbull government.
But at the same time, on the same day, in some real irony, for 700,000 workers who are covered, in hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food, under their awards their penalty rates will be reduced, and not for an offsetting wage rise. It is just a pay cut.”
Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Brendan O’Connor, backed his leader saying “up to 700,000 workers in this country—retail workers, hospitality workers and those who work in pharmacies and fast food outlets—are going to receive real pay cuts as a result of the government refusing to actually respond to the concerns of Labor to quash the order of the [Fair Work] commission and ensure that those wages do not go down”.
As Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations Lisa Chesters (ALP, Bendigo) pointed out, these cuts will affect women in particular.
“We are talking about predominantly women who work in the pharmacy sector, predominantly women who work in the retail sector and predominantly women who work in hospitality. In these three industries, which are made up of predominantly women—women of different ages—workers are about to have their Sunday and public holiday penalty rates cut.”
More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of those covered by the Pharmacy Industry Award are women, Parliament heard.
The comments were part of a series of concerted ALP attacks on the impending penalty rates cut, which will see, form the 1 July, rates for working on Sunday reduced from double time to time-and-a-half for full-time workers, and from double-time to time-and-three-quarters for casual workers. There are similar cuts for public holidays.
Recently the Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist group announced they will honour all existing penalty rate payments for current staff, grandfathering existing Sunday and Public Holiday penalty rates for existing employees and those who are employed before 1 July 2017.
Epic Pharmacy also recently emailed employees to outline the company’s decision to retain current loadings.
Click here for a summary of the Fair Work Commission decision