The pharmacists union has penned an open letter to the director of Chemist Warehouse, urging him not to implement pay cuts
In a February decision by the Fair Work Commission, penalty rates for pharmacy employees were cut, with Sunday penalty rates for full and part-time pharmacy employees reduced from 200% to 150%, and for casuals from 225% to 175%.
Rates for public holidays have been reduced from 250% to 225% for full and part-time pharmacy employees, and from 275% to 250% for casuals.
The start date for the public holiday rate cut is 1 July 2017, although the start date for the Sunday rate cut is not yet determined by the Fair Work Commission.
Professional Pharmacists Australia has penned a letter to Chemist Warehouse urging them not to go through with the cuts.
“While the Fair Work Commission is yet to determine how the cuts will be implemented, we are writing to learn your position on this matter, and whether Chemist Warehouse plans to cut take-home pay of pharmacy employees,” writes PPA National Director Matt Harris, addressing the letter to Chemist Warehouse Director Damien Gance.
Salary reports conducted by the PPA show Chemist Warehouse wages are on or just slightly above the minimum Pharmacy Industry Award (2010) rates, argues Mr Harris.
He adds that “should the cuts be implemented, employees who work weekends and public holidays face losing up to $5,500 per annum”.
However Chemist Warehouse group commercial manager Damien Gance has previously said his group “consistently” pays above the award.
According to the group’s submission to the King Review, as of September 2016 Chemist Warehouse employs 2857 professional services staff across Australia.
This number comprises 1551 registered pharmacists, 343 interns and 963 students.
“One of the primary determinants a pharmacist will consider when choosing where to work is the rate of pay received for his or her employment,” says Chemist Warehouse in its submission.
“If there were any truth to this unfounded accusation of submarket wage rates, the 2857 professional employees would willingly and freely choose to be employed elsewhere and not within the group.”
PPA stands by its position that cuts to penalty rates will expose those who work in pharmacy to a significant cut in take home pay.
“Even in cases where a pharmacist or other employee is paid above the Award rate via an individual flexibility agreement, a cut in the underpinning Award will still impact their future earning capacity,” the letter continues.
“We take this opportunity to remind you that the Australian community [is] strongly opposed to penalty rates cuts, and this will most definitely include your customers. We urge you to listen to the Australian public and not implement the pay cuts.
“Should you see the sense in making this important decision, we would welcome the opportunity of pursuing options for a more sustainable and ongoing industrial relationship,” it ends.
Chemist Warehouse declined to comment.