National pharmacists strike over wages

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Pharmacists across Victoria and South Australia are taking strike action today after enterprise negotiations with employer National Pharmacies have failed to reach an agreement.

Fifty-three stores in both states are impacted by the stop-work this morning with more than 100 employees starting their shifts an hour later than rostered.

“These professionals deliver vital health services for our community,” said Matt Harris, campaign director of Professional Pharmacists Australia.

“Pharmacists have never taken stop-work action before. They are taking this unprecedented action as a last resort.

“The current National Pharmacies offer would see wages flat-line and new employees paid less, jeopardising the sustainability of the service these pharmacists provide for the community.

“National Pharmacies has a 1% per annum pay increase on the table and is proposing that new employees commence on a base hourly rate that is $4 less per hour than existing employees.

“Our members do not want to work alongside colleagues with the same qualifications and experience, being paid $4 less per hour.

“Slashing the hourly rate in the agreement for new employees might look like a superficial cost saving, but it will have a successively negative impact on workplace productivity, and the profession overall.”

Harris says that graduate pharmacists see pay and conditions in their chosen profession declining and have real concerns about making ends meet and building a career.

“Penalty rates have been a key sticking point throughout this negotiation,” he says.

“Pharmacists will not accept reduced penalty rates for evening and weekend shifts. They work weekends to provide a health service for their patients. They miss family events, weddings, birthdays, school fetes, sporting events and they deserve to be paid properly.

“The pharmacists taking stop-work action today have been negotiating in good faith for almost a year. They have not had a pay increase for two years and there is no provision for backpayment in the current deal.

“These are pharmacists who are passionate about delivering high-quality health services. They deserve an enterprise agreement that properly respects and recognises the contribution they make.”

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