"Appalling" cuts to workers compensation could affect everyone

Proposed changes to the Workers Compensation Act introduced in a bill into the Legislative Assembly by Minister for Finance Services Greg Pearce yesterday are even worse than foreshadowed in the May issue of depaNews and were described by the Secretary of UnionsNSW Mark Lennon as “appalling”.

"Whether it be caps on medical payments, the ability to get lump-sum compensation, the removal of journey claims, it is simply an appalling attack on workers benefits", he said.  depa is an affiliate to UnionsNSW and we couldn't agree more. It's a huge erosion of your rights at work and protection for sick and injured workers. 

But what makes it all worse is that the proposed changes are now announced to be retrospective and will affect claims already in the system. This, in itself, is unprecedented.

We argued for better management of the system and more control of costs in May but with the Shooters and the Christian Democrats (the Fred Nile group) having already given the principles the nod, we can expect the bill to be legislated in the next week or so and within the current financial year.  (Odd bedfellows you might think but it could be worse - the Shooters might want to shoot sick and injured workers and the Christian Democrats might want to pray for them.)

There are many, many examples of people whose lives are ruined by injuries at work but now, if you get injured on your way to work or your way home, however that occurs and whomever is responsible for the accident, you will not be covered by workers compensation. Sitting quietly at a set of traffic lights on your way to start work and you get rear-ended by someone paying less attention, and you will be on your own.

It's more than appalling, it's disgraceful. The Liberal/National Party Coalition always rails against the links between Labor and the union movement and cries "class war" in response to open and logical debate about things like mining taxes, the ability of millionaires/billionaires to avoid their taxation obligations etc but no-one wages class war like the Coalition.

Anyone can be injured at work and anyone can be injured on their way to or from work. Contact your local member, particularly if they are a member of the Coalition Government, and tell them it's not fair. Ask them to explain why accidents that occur only because you are a worker travelling to or from work should be removed from coverage under the Workers Compensation Act.

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