Pharmacists at National Pharmacies are calling on the executive managers of the pharmacy chain to stop proposed cuts to pay, and instead support decent jobs and quality services for health consumers, says Professional Pharmacists Australia.
The calls come as the employee pharmacists union, Professional Pharmacists Australia, files for an industrial action ballot in the Fair Work Commission.
National Pharmacies employs more than 200 pharmacists and during negotiations for a new workplace agreement, its executive management has proposed cuts to pharmacists’ penalty rates that could see many pharmacists lose up to $10,000 a year.
“It’s estimated that in Australia, some 190,000 medicine-related hospital admissions occur each year and the associated cost of these to the public health system is in the vicinity of $660 million a year,” says Sarah Andrews, lead negotiator for Professional Pharmacists Australia .
“We are witnessing increasing demands on the health services that pharmacists provide, and yet National Pharmacies’ management is seeking deep cuts that puts the organisation’s reputation for quality at risk.
“Pharmacists are highly skilled health professionals who play a vital role in keeping people healthy.
“Instead of trying to clone the discount model of pharmacy, National Pharmacies should be leading a sector-wide debate on how we better harness the passion, skills and knowledge of pharmacists to keep more people well and out of hospital,” says Andrews.
Employee pharmacists are among the lowest paid health professionals in Australia, and alongside the National Pharmacies proposal, the Pharmacy Guild is also pursuing cuts to penalty rates in proceedings currently before the Fair Work Commission.
“It shouldn’t have to come to this, yet National Pharmacies’ senior managers give pharmacists little choice but to take this action to remind them that quality health care doesn’t just happen: it relies on the hard work and dedication of the people working for the group,” says Andrews.
“Health consumers value quality, and National Pharmacies needs to invest in quality and withdraw its short-sighted proposal to cut pay.
“PPA is calling on management to reconsider its proposal that ultimately turns a trusted pharmacy brand into a discount chain.”