Sunday penalty rates cut would hurt pharmacy profession: PPA

The Productivity Commission has delivered its assessment into Australia’s workplace relations framework calling for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates – calls which mirror the Pharmacy Guild’s campaign to reduce employee pharmacists’ penalty rates, says Professional Pharmacists Australia.

“The Productivity Commission’s assessment of Sunday penalty rates will be celebrated by the leaders of the Pharmacy Guild, but is not welcome news for employee pharmacists who rely on penalty rates to make ends meet,” says PPA President, Dr Geoff March.

“Cuts to penalty rates will harm the pharmacy profession; it will widen a gap in working conditions between employee pharmacists and other health professionals.

“There are already big differences in working conditions of employee pharmacists and other health professionals. If penalty rates are reduced, these gaps in working conditions will only increase – and not in favour of employee pharmacists.

“Pharmacists are an integral part of the wider health system, and yet if the Productivity Commission’s recommendations were implemented it would erode working conditions for Australia’s most respected and accessible health professionals.”

If adopted, the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to reduce Sunday penalty rates, combined with its assessment that enterprise bargaining is “often ill-suited to smaller enterprises” would put employee pharmacists in an unenviable position compared to other health professionals, he says – reliant on minimum award conditions, and largely unable to collectively bargain.

The PPA President says he is also concerned about the implications for the pharmacy sector more broadly if the pay of hundreds of thousands of workers is cut.

“We also should not forget the secondary effects on local economies as employees’ incomes are reduced,” he says. “This is of particular concern in rural and regional Australia.

“Wages growth is at a record lows, and pharmacists, like most employees, can’t afford a pay cut.

“Health consumers rightly expect accessible services that are underpinned by quality advice. For most people, their local pharmacist is the first point of contact they have with the health system.

“Professional Pharmacists Australia will continue to work hard to fend off the Guild’s sustained attempts to cut pharmacists’ take home pay. This is what our members have told us they want and it is what is right.

“It’s important that all health professionals get respect, recognition and reward – including Australia’s 20,000 employee community pharmacists.” says Dr March.

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