Penalty rate cuts ‘devastating’ for pharmacy assistants

The SDA and United Voice have lodged a Federal Court appeal seeking a review of the decision to cut penalty rates

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) said the cuts to penalty rates would be devastating to pharmacy staff.

“The cuts to penalty rates will have devastating impacts for pharmacy assistants across the nation, as thousands of workers will see their weekly pay slashed by between $2000 and $6000 per year. Weekends are an incredibly busy time for pharmacies.

“Hard working pharmacy assistants will have their pay cut despite sacrificing time with their family and friends.”

“Pharmacy assistants are already some of Australia’s lowest paid workers, and can’t afford, nor deserve, a cut to their weekend penalty rates,”  its national secretary Gerard Dwyer told Post Script.

The SDA and United Voice have lodged an appeal to the Federal Court seeking a judicial review of the decision to cut penalty rates for more than 700,000 workers. The Court will examine if there was jurisdictional error in the decision made by the Fair Work Commission.

“The ramifications of cutting penalty rates to pharmacy assistants are very concerning to workers, and the widespread community who need access to healthcare over the weekend. If cutting penalty rates to pharmacy workers motivates them to find work elsewhere, the community may suffer as a result.

“The community understands the importance of having pharmacy workers sacrifice their weekends to ensure access to medications, which means we have widespread community support in our campaign to stop the cuts and restore penalty rates to workers.”

Mr Dwyer said the SDA is prepared for a “hard battle.” 

“The SDA has over 200,000 members across the country, but represent all retail, fast food, pharmacy workers across the nation who are affected by these cuts. We are prepared for a long and hard battle, and every worker who joins the SDA contributes to making the union stronger and better able to oppose the Turnbull Government’s cuts to take home pay.

“This is a fight we can win. We know that because we’ve done it before. But we can only be successful if workers stand together to defend their interests.”

He also said the Union has a strong track record of winning workers good pay and excellent working conditions.

“This is no different. We won’t give up on fighting to restore penalty rates for workers across Australia.”

Mr Dwyer added that regardless of the outcome of its latest appeal, the SDA will continue to fight to have penalty rates restored.

“The cuts to penalty rates began on July 1, and subject to our appeal, they will continue to be phased in over the next 3 years until 2020. [But] we will fight to stop the phase in of these cuts and we need the support of pharmacists, retail and fast food workers so that we can restore penalty rates to workers across the country.

“There are many things workers can do to help us stop the cut to penalty rates, like taking 2 minutes to sign the online Protect Penalty Rates petition and joining our campaign.”

This article was original posted on

Previous Recall alert: Insulin cartridge holders
Next Free catch-up vaccines across Australia

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. Graeme Holloway

    As soon as SDA makes statements like “the Turnbull governments pay cuts” I stop reading as the statement is obviously political as the cuts are not those of the government but of an independent tribunal who spent a long time looking at all the facts before making their decision.

  2. Michael Khoo

    Wait – is this the same SDA that happily signed away penalty rates at major supermarkets ? – I was told the supermarkets pay a hefty “administration fee” to the SDA also…It seems some SDA members are more equal than others! .

    I would happily support the restoration of penalty rates for disadvantaged supermarket employees!

    • bernardlou1

      Michael, you are spot on. Supermarkets and department stores don’t pay penalty rate at all. They have signed a deal with the unions to pay ordinary rates 7 days a week,
      24 hrs a day. Interesting isn’t it.
      Community pharmacy that employes a fraction of employees is being constantly attacked yet no one is approaching department stores or supermarkets!!!!! Who employee way Moreno staff.

Leave a reply