Union calls for industry-wide bargaining

The employee pharmacists’ union has likened pharmacist wages to those of a “labourer” – a comparison the Guild rejects

In a post on its website, Professional Pharmacists Australia has called for industry-wide bargaining to lift pharmacists’ pay.

“The Fair Work Commission provisionally rejected our work-value claim to increase the pharmacy award rate late last year,” it says.

“Under the current Award, a pharmacist’s hourly pay is like a labourer’s! 

“It takes between 5-6 years to become a fully qualified pharmacist! After study, responsibilities include HMRs, RMMRs, inoculations and emergency contraception to mention but a few. 

“The basis of the claim is greater demand on the skills of pharmacists.”

The union says that wages should reflect these years of study and the range of responsibilities carried by pharmacists.

It also cited the Pharmaceutical Society’s recent report, Pharmacists in 2023, which among other recommendations included a plan to allow pharmacists to practice to their full scope of expertise, and to increase wages.

“The current rules will not recognise a pharmacist’s full scope of practice,” says the union. “The FWC provisional ruling is proof of that.”

Chris Walton, CEO Professionals Australia, said that wages have not increased to reflect the change in a pharmacist’s job.

“It’s extraordinary that the system has ignored that fundamental reality,” he said.

The union says that award rates have been “stripped bare” and that “profits go straight to employers,” highlighting recent cuts to penalty rates and claiming pay rises are “non-existent”.

“We need to end the competition’ to have the lowest wage cost. We must push for industry-wide bargaining,” it says.

“Under the current system, rogue employers gain an unfair advantage by underpaying workers.

A Guild spokesperson told the AJP that while the Fair Work Commission’s decision in December did not accept the PPA (APESMA) work value claim, it did however recognise that the pharmacist’s work value had increased in specific areas.

“The FWC has requested all parties to address this point in future submissions,” the spokesperson observed.

“The comparison of the current minimum safety net Award wage to a labour’s wage is not valid.

“Employment classifications have unique capability, skills, knowledge and experience recognised in previous decisions to set the minimum safety net under the award system.   

“The Guild position is the minimum safety net for employment conditions is contained in the Award as determined by the FWC.

“Nevertheless employers need to remunerate staff appropriately to attract and retain the best employee for their business operations and skills/knowledge utilised.”

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  1. Charbel Habchi

    A pharmacist’s wage is comparable to a labourer’s?
    Oh how we should wish that it was so. A labourer working under an enterprise bargaining agreement is guaranteed a minimum of $40+ per hour, and that’s for an entry level labourer without their allowances. Now consider a skilled/experienced labourer with the various site allowances and that hourly rate creeps well above $50/hr. So please guys, let’s not compare ourselves with anybody in the construction industry, it’s just too demoralising.

  2. Apotheke

    Why should any young person bother to train as a Pharmacist to earn an hourly rate that is no better than that earned by a trades assistant at $30-$35.00/hr. Pharmacy as an occupation is dying and the only people who do not realize this are the blinkered people in positions of leadership in the Guild and PSA. The vast majority of simple dispensing roles can easily and will be be done by AI. We have an overwhelming glut of registered Pharmacists and far too many Pharmacy schools that keep churning out people for non existent jobs. Why? Is it so that the academics can keep their cushy jobs? Time for a major rethink of the true role of the Pharmacist and how many Australia actually needs per head of population not how many the Universities can churn out in a cookie cutter fashion.

  3. Dr E Ackermann

    Why does a pharmacist work for a salary – and not say as a % of income they generate?
    Ie as in a GP and a General Practice.


    FACT: a dispensary tech in a hospital can get up to $40/hr+ full time award rate.
    FACT: The Guild has opposed a reasonable basic award wage for a pharmacist. Although I support the Guild in many things this is not one of them. Pharmacists need to be paid what they are worth – and that is certainly NOT $28/hr.
    FACT: pharmacy owners can afford to pay well above award (and many do).
    FACT: pharmacist wages overall have not increased in-line with inflation (should be approx $51/hr now – you are right now earning less than in early 2000)!
    FACT: pharmacist responsibilities & jobs have INCREASED.
    Paying what someone is worth & working for what you are worth is the the basic foundation of any profession. It is the foundation of long-term success.

    • Apotheke

      PPA has tried valiantly over the years to raise Pharmacists salaries and has met vehement opposition from the owners union, the Pharmacy Guild. The Guild was also one of the organisations who stood alongside the major retailers that then pushed for a cut to weekend and public holiday penalty rates in the Fair Work Commission.The leadership of the Guild has a very simplistic view of wages in the Pharmacy sector. Wages are a cost of doing business just like rent, utilities, insurances etc. In their view it is in the owners financial interest to minimize his/her costs to maximize their net profit from the business. They do not wish to acknowledge that the employee is a very valuable asset of the business and in many cases, especially in small business, the employees are the goodwill of that business.Happy well paid employees are an asset and will improve your bottom line. Unhappy resentful wage slaves will do the absolute minimum to earn their coin and will look for better opportunities elsewhere. I wonder if the Guild has ever done an employee satisfaction survey or looked at statistics of staff turnover?

  5. Dan Corrigan

    I came to Australia 12 years ago and I couldn’t believe the Award wage as it was 10 years behind what we were getting paid in Canada at the time. To believe the award wage is still the same now is crazy. It really is an insult to our profession. We all know Pharmacists with all their knowledge and years of training (plus the responsibility they have) are worth more than 28$/hr.
    I think Tall Poppy makes a great point regarding inflation which should have been taken into account in the negotiations. An Award wage increase should have occurred independent of the discussion over recent change in responsibilities.


      Thanks Dan. Yes, back in early 2000 pharmacists were getting around $35/hr at least – newly qualified after internship. If you apply inflation to this…in 2019 you should be getting at the very least $51/hr. Anything less then you have effectively taken a massive PAY CUT in real terms.
      This is why pharmacists (both employees AND employers) should be dissappointed with the Guild if they take a broad view of the sector. Now, they won’t be attracting the very best individuals to the profession. In fact, this is already the case with Uni entrance scores much lower than in 2000. Perhaps the sector has decided that it doesn’t actually need high achievers in the profession as it is now getting more and more dumbed down to the level of discount retailing?
      As I said before – paying what some is is worth in a profession is the basic foundation of long-term success.

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