Unions call on Abbott Government to give injured workers a fair go

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The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) will call on the Abbott Government to take urgent actions to improve outcomes for injured or sick workers at today’s ACTU Congress in Melbourne.

The Abbott Government has several Bills before Parliament to expand Comcare and allow more private national employers to join, and to cut workers’ entitlements.

Injured or sick workers who are covered under this federal scheme will have their entitlements slashed if the Bills are passed.

Congress will resolve to fight attempts to diminish workers’ entitlements and call on the Abbott Government to:

  • Withdraw the Bills from Parliament;
  • Establish an inquiry examining the effect cost shifting by workers' compensation schemes onto injured workers and services, such as social security and the public health system;
  • Return Comcare to apply only to Federal public servants and to return all private sector participants onto State or Territory schemes;
  • Strengthen Occupational Health and Safety laws and make directors personally fined and/or jailed to ensure companies cannot restructure to avoid paying fines as a result of negligent conduct.

Any changes to laws should not result in a reduction of workers’ rights and entitlements, regardless of who they work for and where they live.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said every worker has a right to a safe workplace and not be disadvantaged from a work-related injury or illness.

“State and Federal Government’s cost cutting to workers’ compensation schemes have resulted in less money to pay compensation and shift the burden from employers to workers.

“Changes to Occupational Health and Safety laws and workers’ compensation schemes should be made following genuine consultation with unions and a process of community review," he said.

“Workers deserve compensation for losing limbs, developing occupational cancers or other debilitating physical and mental conditions resulting from their work.

“Workers already bear the cost of their work-related injury or illness; these changes will only increase that burden.

“The Abbott Government should work with unions to develop a set of high quality national standards for workers’ entitlements so no Australian worker bears financial hardship from their work-related injury or illness," Mr Borowick said.

Unions will campaign to improve Comcare to be the best model for workers' compensation.

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