The pharmacists’ union has held a national protest over the weekend against cuts to penalty rates
A ‘National Day of Action’, hosted by Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA) on Sunday 6 August, called on members to lobby pharmacies across Australia.
Its purpose was to make the public aware about how cuts to penalty rates will affect employee pharmacists, PPA spokesperson Georgia Kavanagh-Dando told AJP.
The first round of cuts – to Sunday rates from 200% to 195% – began on 1 July 2017, with the full impact of the cuts to be delayed until 1 July 2020.
Some pharmacy chains have agreed not to cut penalty rates, such as Chemist Warehouse/My Chemist (for current staff who started work before 1 July), UFS Dispensaries, Epic Pharmacy and several independent operators.
PPA is pushing for other pharmacy chains to follow suit, with Amcal firmly in its sights.
It is currently calling on people to pledge not to shop at Amcal pharmacies until they rule out cutting penalty rates for all pharmacy employees.
Many of the protesters took their places outside Amcal pharmacies over the weekend, posting photos across social media.
“The ‘Day of Action’ focused attention on the second largest group of pharmacy businesses under Sigma, including Amcal, with Sigma-owned pharmacy brands representing about 20% of the sector,” said a spokesperson for PPA.
“Many customers were stunned that professional pharmacists are among the lowest paid professions, with the second-lowest graduate salaries of any bachelor degree qualified profession, and thousands signed the pledge not to shop at pharmacies that don’t pay penalty rates.
The union spokesperson says the campaign will use the collective 1.7 million union members in a campaign to encourage consumers to only shop at pharmacies that pay penalty rates.
Sigma Healthcare, which owns the Amcal brand, has put out a statement in regards to the action.
“Sigma is very disappointed with the unprofessional and inappropriate action taken by the PPA in targeting certain Amcal pharmacies, including the distribution of false and misleading material,” it said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“We are currently investigating all appropriate courses of action, including legal avenues, on behalf of Sigma and our members,” said a Sigma spokesperson.
“The campaign by the PPA was not based on facts, and was intimidating for customers and the very people they purport to represent.”