Weekend rates protected in workplace agreement deal

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Pharmacists at National Pharmacies have settled their workplace agreement negotiations, with rates remaining ‘well above’ the award.

Recently employees at the group became the first community pharmacists to take industrial action in Australia.

A spokesperson for the pharmacists’ union said it was pleased that “National Pharmacies decided to take its proposed cuts off the negotiating table”.

National Pharmacies, however, says it never intended to slash penalty rates below the industry award standard.

A spokesperson for the National Pharmacies group says it negotiated a new enterprise agreement with its pharmacists with strong support.

“Pharmacists at National Pharmacies have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new enterprise agreement reflecting the offer made by National Pharmacies to its employees,” the spokesperson says.

“The Agreement was reached after several months of negotiation between National Pharmacies’ management team and the pharmacists’ union, Professional Pharmacists Australia.

“National Pharmacies throughout remained committed to negotiating in good faith and, as a result, is confident it has an outcome that is fair, equitable and sustainable for everyone.

“Under the new Agreement, pharmacists’ base rates of pay and several penalty rates remain well above the industry award and, contrary to what has been claimed, National Pharmacies at no time during the negotiations sought to reduce penalty rates below the industry award standard.

“This new enterprise agreement will better equip the business for an increasingly competitive and uncertain marketplace, a tough retail market, changes to the PBS and other Federal Government reforms.”

According to PPA lead negotiator Sarah Andrews, there is strong support from members for the final agreement.

“For many years, patients have valued the quality service that they get when they deal with a National Pharmacies pharmacist, and while there are elements of this agreement that could be better, it goes some way to valuing the work of professional pharmacists,” says Andrews.

She says that union remuneration surveys consistently show that the discount model can lead to discount wages.

“Unlike many other employment arrangements in pharmacy, this agreement ensures protections to employment conditions alongside the delivery of a high quality community pharmacy service via National Pharmacies outlets,” she says.

The new agreement means that new employees will not be paid less than existing staff.

The agreement also locks in penalty rates regardless of any changes that may be handed down by the Fair Work Commission later in the year.

“It took months and months of working together, supporting each other and being the first pharmacists ever in Australia to take industrial action, but they’ve done it,” says Andrews.

The National Pharmacies spokesperson says that the group is committed to retaining and attracting the best available talent “and is determined to continue to offer the very best service possible to its members and customers in an increasingly competitive environment”.

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