Pharmacists at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane have started dispensing drugs for free to protest proposed pay cuts
On Monday, Mater Hospital received a 65% ‘no’ vote to its proposed new classification structure that would mean pay cuts of between 15-18% for its pharmacist employees, according to Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA).
As part of protected industrial action, PPA members at the Mater have now started dispensing all medications privately to patients for free, and this action will continue indefinitely, confirms the union.
“Mater is trying to dramatically knock down the pay,” Gianni Sottile, PPA Lead Organiser Queensland told AJP, alleging the private hospital is also refusing to include protections against contracting out in the new agreement.
“We’re about to meet with all the other unions, we want to come to a deal with the Mater but we need it to be a deal that lets our members live their lives and not have a dramatic cut in their pay. Such a pay cut affects the way they can care for their families and their patients,” said Mr Sottile.
“Our members are fighting for themselves, but they’re fighting for the future of the profession,” said PPA President, Dr Geoff March.
“Members care about patient safety, so we’re hitting the Mater in the hip pocket to show them that we are serious about fighting these cuts.
“PPA wants to send a clear message to pharmacy employers: we will stand up for the future of the profession,” said Dr March.
“Pharmacists are health professionals, and their pay and conditions should reflect the level of skill, and the vital role they play in keeping patients safe and treated properly.”
Last month, 97% of union members at the Mater voted in favour of industrial action, warning that this could include putting up posters, dispensing drugs to patients free of costs, and to strike.
Following that vote, Mater said in a statement provided to AJP that it values the contribution of its pharmacists and is “committed to working with employees and their representatives to finalise a new Health Practitioners Enterprise Agreement”.
“As a private, not-for-profit healthcare provider, during this routine process Mater is seeking to find a balance between the individual interests of its employees and the ongoing sustainability of these services,” it said.
Acting Regional Executive Director of Mater Health (South East Queensland), Justin Greenwell outlined his support in finalising a new pharmacy agreement which he said would balance the best interests of both employees and healthcare services.
“Mater continues to work with employees to ensure we are providing the best possible position for our employees and provision of our services,” he said.
Mater added that it will continue to work with its employees and their representatives to finalise a new Agreement.