‘Crisis point’ as Guild, PPA talk Award


The Guild’s national president has confirmed that the organisation is in talks with the employee pharmacists’ union on the Award

Professional Pharmacists Australia issued a statement on Monday in which it said that its campaign to modernise the pharmacy award—by lifting wages and conditions and upgrading the classification structure— has gained further momentum with support from Pharmacy Guild President Trent Twomey.

PPA representatives have had meetings with Mr Twomey, who agreed the current Award and classifications structure is “no longer fit for purpose and change is required,” PPA said.

PPA President Geoff March said he was increasingly confident that change is on the horizon.

“The pharmacy industry is at crisis point with morale at all-time lows and our latest survey showing record numbers intending to leave the profession,” said Dr March.

“We need urgent change in this sector if we’re going to retain and attract quality people.

“After 20 years of the Guild resisting this change, we look forward to working with a new President, with a different attitude.”

The Pharmacy Guild has previously actively opposed wage increases and the adoption of a ‘patient care’ approach to practice, claims PPA.

“It is in everyone’s interest that employee pharmacists are fairly remunerated and given the opportunities, respect and recognition they deserve, because we need to do something about workforce attrition,” Dr March said.

“It is simply not sustainable that pharmacists remain the lowest paid health professionals and lowest paid graduates in the country.

“Another key issue affecting attraction and retention is the limited scope of practice for pharmacists that has been embedded in the industry.

“The Guild has previously negotiated Community Pharmacy Agreements that have locked the industry into a funding model that overwhelmingly rewards dispensing.”

Dr March said it is “critical that wages and conditions are lifted, or the brain drain will continue.”

“It is also urgent that we recognise the skills and capacity of pharmacists and expand the horizons of what they can do to support community health, instead of artificially limiting their work to suit business funding models.

“We are encouraged by the Guild’s shift in position and look forward to seeing that reflected in industrial relations changes.

“In particular, we seek the Guild’s public support to lift pharmacists’ wages and conditions, improve career structures and implement an inclusive approach to negotiations on matters that affect all pharmacists, technicians and retail staff.”

Trent Twomey told the AJP that, “The Guild is in talks with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the award is fit for purpose to grow and sustain the community pharmacy model, which is pivotal to meeting the health needs of communities across the country”.

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11 Comments

  1. Experienced pharmacist
    23/08/2021

    I’m on the way out. Half way through my masters of teaching and have a part time job as a teachers aid at a higher rate if pay than as a pharmacist with nearly 30 years experience (including 10 years of ownership). Much less stress in my new role.

  2. Ai Nguyen
    23/08/2021

    This has to be fixed long time ago. It is late now, but better late than never. Pharmacists deserve much more than they get now. The salary need to be equal to other professionals.

  3. Jason Meiers
    23/08/2021

    There are other options when you look. It can take awhile, and you will get discouraged, but keep looking if you’re stressed, overworked and underpaid.
    I now work as a harm reduction worker with injecting drug users. Started at the same pay with permanent hours, as I was making as a pharmacist in charge with ten years experience. I’ve just signed a new contract after a year, and my pay went up a dollar an hour, with an increasing pay scale onwards. When does this ever occur in pharmacy? The conditions are MUCH better, much less stress, much more reward. Your clients thank you, like you, there isn’t constant adversity over cost and supply issues, and ironically the clients are far better behaved and I haven’t been physically assaulted thus far, as opposed to pharmacy. The pharmacy degree landed me the job out of a large pool of candidates, so if you’re despairing, start looking.

  4. Pharmacists see a new patient every 2 minutes and paid 50 cents or less to see that patient and still can be considered liable for 20 million worth of harm if do a single mistake in those 2 minutes. Pharmacy board should be held responsible who has set this speed of dispensing. But no, pharmacists are held responsible and sacked from job and profession in the case of dispensing error. GP see up to 30 patients per day, specialist see 20 patients in a day, why pharmacist has to see 220 patients (from vet, dentist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, specialties) , order stock, put stock away, answer phone calls, do med checks, handle s2 and s3 sales, take the responsibility of entire warehouse, get abused, do statutory declaration, document attestation and so on…..and still get paid $30 per hour. While warehouse or other pharmacy owners are buying pharmacies each year, can afford to pay $1 co-payment discount, live in multimillion dollars homes but cannot afford to pay pharmacist a decent salary. The payback time for a pharmacist is currently 10 years compared to other retail staff that has worked full time and did not invest time and money in 5 years program. It is radically lengthy time. Wake up pharmacist and call for 100 patients per day otherwise you will become patient one day of mental illness.

  5. actnowpharmacists
    24/08/2021

    I must say…. 20 bloody years it took PPA to realise Guild was enriching its Millionaires club’s members at the expense of an employee pharmacists. What a great union PPA has been. Even today PPA singing praises for Mr Twomey for being kind enough to even listen to this toothless union.
    Now everyone get ready for the pay rise and here it comes. From now on Mr Twomey says, Pharmacists will not get 35$/hr. It has been mutually agreed upon by Guild and PPA that they be paid 37$/hr.

  6. Paul Sapardanis
    24/08/2021

    Is it possible that the 2 groups are able to change the award anyhow? Fairwork Australia provides a MINIMUM and any wage increase must be through an EBA. With so many independent pharmacies how is this possible? The only group in pharmacy that has an EBA with their pharmacists is the National Pharmacy group. If I’m wrong I’d appreciate clarification

  7. United we stand
    25/08/2021

    We all knew that we were fast approaching a ticking time bomb as the Australian average income was looking to surpass a pharmacist wage. According to the latest data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults in Australia in November 2020 was $1,463 ($76,067 annually). In 2021, this is well above what many pharmacists earn in metropolitan areas.

    Not to mention, any other professional in STEM, Healthcare and IT is earning significantly more than a pharmacist.

    With pharmacists earning below national average coupled with housing affordability a key issue for first home buyers and a lack of clear path for career progression, the exodus will most definitely continue well into the future.

    In the long-term, overseas pharmacists will make up a big chunk of community pharmacists with salaries continuing to decouple from national average. PGA is positioning itself to see this scenario play out smoothly by ensuring pharmacists remain on the skilled visa list for the next decade and maintaining the status quo.

    Trent Twomey is merely providing lip service to try and polish PGA’s tarnished name in the profession. I don’t think any pharmacist has any hope for things improving in the future.

    • TALL POPPY
      26/08/2021

      Truckies earn $95k/annum with Toll. PLUS 15% super. And, now, they are about to get a payrise!! Zero tertiary qualifications needed. Think about that.
      Truckies deliver the goods fast. They stand up for themselves fast. They get media exposure fast. Pharmacists are getting nowhere fast.

      Best of luck.

  8. Steven Julius
    25/08/2021

    Changed scope of practice should not be in the same discussion as wages. Make that secondary. If it’s linked to wages it’ll only equate to more work. The current work isn’t going away.

    Double the minimum wage and we’re on track. Forget small % increases. That’s pissing on a bushfire. Talk is cheap while our futures die.

    And while they’re at it turning this iceberg struck Titanic with a paddle every employee pharmacist should be retraining into a new career path as a matter of urgency.

    If you believe it’ll change you’re a fool.

    (I hope this comment doesn’t age well but that’s the severely starved and beaten optimist in me.)

    • TALL POPPY
      25/08/2021

      “Pharmacy sucks. Big time!” a young pharmacist once blurted out to me. Upon asking why, he said that he hadn’t had a wage rise in ages; his mate in Dentistry was earning 50% more than he did & now going on to specialise as an Ortho to really earn the big bucks ($300k++/annum). Not only that he had been given even MORE work to perform! DAA checking, Medscheks, Vaccinations etc

      That was 5 years ago. He is now so stressed in this COVID environment and trying to make ends meet for his young family earning the same low pay. His mate now has his own Orthodontics practice and is speccing a new Ferrari.

      Going back 20 years pharmacists were already earning $35/hr – $40/hr. Accounting for inflation that should be over $60/hr now. And let me tell you that inflation never stops and will soon be increasing even more! Big time!

      Over the years the Guild has secured significant funding either directly or indirectly for pharmacy in return for providing extra services. They say to the Government “Show me the money!”. Which is why you need to say the same thing! An example is this latest COVID vaccination deal.

      And to really make $$$ in pharmacy you need to be an owner. Proper Ownership (PO) is simply impossible for both young and experienced pharmacists as the whole industry is stitched up by a few groups and their non-working bigwigs. PO is however an extremely good way of creating wealth without even having to stand up all day in a dispensary. And with PO you earn a certain amount of respect and status amongst your peers and other health professionals which in turn builds further connections.

      Therefore it should be obvious that pharmacy can afford to pay pharmacists more.

      Employee pharmacists have little idea of how much power they wield – remember a pharmacy does not open without its pharmacist! Yet you are paid so little and just accept it.

      Anyone planning to study pharmacy or not planning to get out is simply foolish. The rhetoric about helping the community is endless and should only be believed by mindless sheep that don’t understand pharmacy is big business. Is that you? Or are you an intelligent eagle that wants to fly high? Get what you deserve or get out!

      Good luck!

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