As Australians we value our world class health system and access to affordable prescription medicines.
We also value quality pharmacy services, which is why we need to value every pharmacist.
Pharmacists play such an important role in helping people get well and ensuring the quality use of medicines. Yet in the past few years we have witnessed an erosion of pharmacists’ wages.
The situation has gotten so bad that pharmacists are now among the lowest paid health professionals in Australia.
Pharmacists’ jobs have increased in responsibility and complexity in the past few years, yet low pay is dragging community pharmacy down and the minimum wages set out in the Pharmacy Industry Award no longer reflect the value of the work pharmacists perform.
Not every pharmacist is paid Award wages, but every pharmacist should be concerned about low pay corroding the profession.
We know that large pharmacy discount chains have built their business around paying pharmacists close to or at the current Award rate. We also know that the market share of the discount chains has been increasing, creating a race to the bottom on wages.
If we value quality pharmacy services, we need to value every pharmacist. We have launched a case in the Fair Work Commission to lift pay in community pharmacy so that pay rates in the Award better reflect the value of the work that pharmacists perform.
A guide to our Fair Work campaign for better pay
Step 1: The Application
PPA has made a formal application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for it to consider changing the pay rates in the Award so that they better reflect the value of pharmacists’ work in this decade and not the last. We are only seeking to increase the minimum safety net – not to increase wages to what we really think pharmacists should be paid. This is because the award rates of pay are only meant to set the absolute minimum standard that a pharmacist can be paid. The Commission has accepted our application, and it is likely to be considered sometime in the second half of 2016. The Pharmacy Guild and other interested parties will have the opportunity to participate.
You can read more about our application here.
While we wait, PPA is investing in research to support the case, and is speaking to pharmacists, academics and economists to catalogue the changes in the sector over the last 15 years. We’ll also need the support of pharmacists to come forward and provide the Commission with their own insights about the value of the work they do.
Step 2: Conciliation
This step will provide an opportunity for the interested parties, namely PPA and the Pharmacy Guild to explore the areas where there may be some common ground. For example, the Guild may not oppose everything in our application.
This is a reasonably informal step, and ultimately even where there is agreement, – our case will go to the next step which is known as Arbitration because we will also have to convince the Commission of the need to increase award rates of pay.
Step 3: Arbitration
At this point, the FWC Commissioner will lay out the deadlines for submissions and documents, and set the dates and places for any hearings it will conduct into our case.
It will require PPA to lodge a detailed written submission which details all of our arguments of why pharmacists’ pay should be increased. We’ll be required to file all our evidence, including witness statements, reports and any other relevant materials.
The Guild (and any other interested parties) will be required to provide a written response to our submission.
Following this initial phase of arbitration, we will be given the opportunity to provide a response to any matters raised by the Guild that aren’t considered in our original submission.
The Commission will then conduct a hearing, which is an opportunity for Commissioners to ask questions about our submission and the Guild’s response, and where witnesses will give evidence and answer questions that the Guild and the FWC will have.
Once this is all heard by the Commission, PPA and the Guild will put their final summaries of our cases.
The final step is of course the point where the FWC makes a decision on whether it changes any aspects of the Award, including the minimum pay rates.
- Share information about PPA on social media – you’ll receive regular alerts with information you can share with your friends and colleagues.
- Join PPA: the best thing you can do to support the campaign is to join. You’ll be supporting the campaign, as well as getting PII, work insurance and CPD.
- I’m already a member, but I will speak to my colleagues about the campaign: leave your details and someone from PPA will contact you to discuss.
- Find out more about becoming a witness to our case – we’ll send you an information pack with more information.