‘These must be the lowest paid, but most highly qualified professionals in Australia’: Pharmacists and supporters slam new award minimum rates of $27.19 p/hour

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently announced that in relation to modern award minimum wages, from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2018, minimum weekly wages will be increased by 3.5%, with commensurate increases in hourly rates on the basis of a 38-hour week.

As of 1 July 2018 the minimum pay rate for a Pharmacist will be $27.19 per hour and the starting pay rate for an Intern Pharmacist will be $23.25.

Professional Pharmacists Australia’s (PPA) President Geoff March welcomed the FWC national minimum wage review as a “step in the right direction”.

However he said the 3.5% increase will not bring pharmacy award pay rates to a level that reflects the value that employee pharmacists produce.

“Employee pharmacists work hard for our community and deserve higher pay. We will continue to wait for the FWC to rule on our case to increase Pharmacy Industry Award pay by an average of 30%.”

Based on responses to the news on social media, most pharmacists agree with Dr March, saying the rise just isn’t enough.

Here are some of the responses (respondents have been de-identified for privacy purposes):

“Not nearly enough for the years of study, training, all the responsibilities we have, services we offer & duty of care to customers. It is well below other health professions such as doctors, specialists, anaesthetists & the likes!! The pay has never increased much over the decades like other professions and it has been Guild recommending to the pay tribunal that wages should stay at minimum wages. Very disappointing that the Guild has allowed these low wages, great that PPA & others are fighting for the workers though.” – EB

“My sister is a nursing student with no experience and earns more than $30 an hour doing casual admin work in a children’s hospital. This is garbage. I’m a pharmacist and I’ll never be able to go from hospital to community with these wage rates. Severely underpaid profession.” – RR

“Yay a minimum of $27 for a gruelling job that requires an absolute shitload of uni study.” – OT

“After 20 years, I am now paid 22 cents above award.” – MC

“Who would have thought we are qualified health professionals with remuneration that poor. Woolworths checkout operators probably get more.” – CT

“5 years total of study/internship just to be paid LESS than a supermarket checkout assistant. So disgusted. If only I knew the pay was like this before making my decision to enrol in Pharmacy.” – XS

“My mum works in childcare and she earns 30 bucks an hour as a fulltimer after a 1 year diploma at TAFE.” – BS

“It’s an absolute disgrace. People who have to train for so long and take on a huge responsibility for the health of customers are paid a pittance. Where did it all go so wrong? These must be the lowest paid, but most highly qualified professionals in Australia.” – PA

“Disgrace full on. It’s worse than 20 years ago. Downhill. I never encourage anyone to study pharmacy.” – JT

“Wooo soft serve cones on me!” TD

“What’s all the hoo ha about? Should I be excited about getting paid less than a supermarket worker ?  Disgusting….. so much responsibility for what ?  The perception out there is we’re rolling in it ….. keep dreaming.” – VA

“The silver lining is that we will probably never earn enough to pay our HECS back.” – EL

What do you think about the current state of pharmacist wages? Comment below.