The strike action at National Pharmacies stores today, which saw some pharmacies closed for an hour, may eventually be repeated at other groups, Professional Pharmacists Australia campaign director Matt Harris told the AJP today.
“We know that pharmacists in other pharmacy groups are watching this action closely and no doubt will be considering the steps that they take in the near future,” he says.
“Wages in pharmacy have been stagnant for several years, and it’s basically that the discount chains have acted as a drag on wages,” Harris told the AJP.
“Generally, they’re paying their pharmacists $5 less per hour. And the pharmacists at National Pharmacies are concerned that National is heading down that path, by paying their new employee pharmacists $4 less per hour.”
Harris says that compared to graduate rates for other health professionals, as well as industry professionals like engineers, pharmacists are remunerated poorly.
“They’re among the worst paid health professionals in Australia,” he says.
“We just don’t think that’s sustainable. If you want to provide quality pharmacy care to health consumers, then you need to properly respect and reward employee pharmacists across the board.”
Harris says that so far, health consumers have been supportive of the strike action against National Pharmacies.
“There’s no doubt that the action will cause some inconvenience to health consumers, but I was at one of the pharmacies this morning and they were actually very supportive of the steps the pharmacists are taking to support quality services.
“I think consumers are quite well informed about what’s happening in pharmacy.”