Oct 31

Injured Workers outraged as O’Farrell rewards employers who injure workers

PRESS RELEASE       

 

Injured Workers outraged as O’Farrell rewards employers who injure workers

 

Injured Workers are outraged by the O’Farrell Governments announcement yesterday that they intend to reward employers with a further 5% reduction in their annual workers compensation premiums.

 

Adam Grumley, Coordinator of the Injured Workers Support Network said “the savings have been made off the backs of injured workers having their benefits cut. The poorly drafted and implemented legislation is far from “fair” for injured workers and their families. Employers are continuing to injure workers and are now being rewarded with another reduction in their premiums.

 

The reality is workers are not being returned to work in droves. Injured workers are simply being kicked out of the system via work capacity decisions that cut off both weekly benefits and medical expenses. There is no effective mechanism for injured workers to seek relief from these decisions made by insurers.

Everyday our office fields calls from injured workers and their families who are highly distressed at the prospect of losing everything they have worked for because of theses drastic changes.

 

Minister for Finance and Services Mr Andrew Constance and Premier Barry O’Farrell must come clean and explain how their changes are at all benefiting workers who have had the unfortunate experience of suffering a workplace injury. Both are more than welcome to attend any of our injured worker meetings.”

 

The IWSN is a not for profit peer support and advocacy service aimed at assisting and supporting workers who have sustained work related injuries, illness and disabilities to rebuild their lives.

Contact Adam Grumley – IWSN Coordinator Sydney Region – 02 9749 7566

www.injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Oct 30

Business groups gloat, injured workers wear the cost

UNIONS-NSW

As the great workers compensation con-job continues,  we remain hopeful that the current Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, is able to find a moment of clarity.

Injured workers and their families are again left suffering, whilst employers have been rewarded with yet another reduction in their premiums.

Source Unions NSW: Business groups gloat, injured workers wear the cost

Today’s news that the WorkCover premiums will be cut by five per cent shows the deep price paid by some of society’s most vulnerable people, sick and injured workers, under the Government’s deep cuts to workers compensation.

Unions NSW contends that the WorkCover deficit was on track to turn around within five years. But in a confected crisis, the Government deeply cut the rights and entitlements of injured workers, in the process delivering a huge benefit to the business lobby.

 

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said it was inappropriate for the State Government and business groups to gloat about the reduction in premiums.

 

“This reduction in premiums is built on the back of sick and injured workers. It’s hardly appropriate for the Government and the business lobby to begin popping champagne corks,” Mr Lennon said.

 

“Untold misery has been visited on some of society’s most vulnerable people thanks to these cuts.

 

“Now the scheme is back in the black the Government should look urgently at reversing some of the cuts to the workers compensation system that have treated injured workers and their families so callously. A good place to start would be medical bills.

 

“If the government was fair minded it would look to helping the injured instead of putting more dollars into the hands of business.

 

“The Government is showing its true colours with this latest premium cut, the second since the cuts to workers comp were introduced.

 

“The reason the scheme is back in the black is because injured workers have had weekly payments cut off, even when they have not provided with suitable employment.”

Read Here: Unions NSW

Oct 30

Further Premium cuts on the way for business as Workcover returns to surplus

While injured workers and their families are suffering.

 

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance today announced a further reduction to WorkCover premiums while confirming the scheme is now back in the black for the first time since 2008.

It means 200,000 employers across 376 industries will benefit from an average premium rate reduction of five per cent – saving them more than $130 million a year. Mr O’Farrell made the announcement at Aldridge Traffic Systems at Rhodes along with Mr Constance, Member for Drummoyne John Sidoti and Vice President of the NSW Business Chamber Tony Dormer.

“These reductions in WorkCover premiums show the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is delivering on its commitment to support jobs and grow the state economy,” Mr O’Farrell said. “The NSW Government’s reforms are delivering a fairer system, with more generous payments being provided to severely injured workers and businesses receiving incentives to improve workplace safety,”

he said. “The premium cuts announced today are on top of an average 7.5 per cent rate cut that came in earlier this year for 167,000 employers.“With these reductions combined, NSW businesses will receive an average 12.5 per cent rate reduction in the 2013 premium cycle, returning $330 million to help grow the economy.

 
“The NSW Government’s action to fix the scheme means no employer will receive a rate increase in 2013.“These reforms are great news for a business such as Aldridge Traffic Systems which will receive a further WorkCover premium rate reduction of 7.5 per cent.” Mr Constance said the former Labor government ran WorkCover into the ground, leaving behind an unsustainable scheme with a $4.1 billion deficit.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals were determined to clean up the mess left behind by our predecessors, and pleasingly, we’ve been able to put WorkCover back on a sustainable footing,” Mr Constance said. “The NSW Government’s reforms are freeing up businesses to grow and are providing better support for injured workers to help them return safely to work sooner.“Returning to work early and safely is good for recovery and helps workers regain financial independence sooner.


“Safe Work Australia has reported that in 2012/13, NSW’s return to work rate improved by three per cent to 88 per cent – making it higher than the national average of 86 per cent.

“This result is a key driver in WorkCover’s improved performance, with the scheme accumulating a $309 million surplus as of 30 June 2013. “This is a great result for the workers and employers of NSW. There is now adequate funding to protect injured worker payments while rewarding employers for good safety performance.”

  • Small employers are continuing to benefit from incentives introduced in June including:
  • An Employer Safety Incentive (ESI) premium discount at each policy renewal,
  • A Return to Work Incentive for employers who have an injury in the workplace. An employer can retain their ESI discount provided injured workers return to work within 13 weeks,
  • An increased discount to five per cent for paying the premium in full by the due date.

The NSW Business Chamber estimated that without the NSW Government’s reforms to the WorkCover Scheme 12,600 jobs and job opportunities would be have been at risk. “WorkCover’s improved financial performance proves that looking after people who are injured at work and lower premiums are not mutually exclusive,”

Mr Dormer said.“Apart from the reduced premiums, it is particularly pleasing there has been a reduction in the number of claims and the improvement in the return to work rate.
“NSW now has the best return to work rate in the country,” he said.

 

Oct 30

CSIRO scientist Dr David McDonald wins compensation for Wi-Fi pain

A CSIRO scientist has won compensation for crippling headaches, nausea and dizziness caused by using Wi-Fi and computers at work.

Source News.com.au CSIRO scientist Dr David McDonald wins compensation

Dr David McDonald, a mathematician who worked as a principal research scientist at the CSIRO for 15 years, has moved to the Victorian countryside to avoid electromagnetic radiation.

He wears custom-made clothing fashioned from metallic cloth, has screened his house with metal shields and even sleeps in a special tent to screen out Wi-Fi transmissions in hotels.

“When I go into a building with Wi-Fi I feel extremely ill,’’ he said yesterday.

“I get a very strong headache and the left hand side of my head feels numb.

“After ceasing that exposure, the symptoms disappear.’’

In a case that could set a precedent for workers’ compensation cases, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has ruled that the federal government’s insurer, Comcare, should compensate Dr McDonald for “aggravation of a condition of nausea, disorientation and headaches’’.

The judgement states that Dr McDonald told the CSIRO selection panel during his job interview that he suffered from sensitivity to electromagnetic frequencies — or EMF — emitted by computers, TVs, mobile phones, microwave ovens, power lines and transformers.

The CSIRO agreed to give him an assistant, so he could write programs on paper and have someone else punch the code into a computer.

But in 2005 it withdrew the administrative support and ordered Dr McDonald to trial working with a BlackBerry phone, an electronic projector and a desktop computer enclosed in a “Faraday cage’’ to block electrical fields.

“Dr McDonald became ill within minutes each time his computer was switched on,’’ the judgement states.

“He experienced nausea and headaches and suffered severe migraine 2-12 hours later.

“He felt unwell for several days after each attack.’’

Dr McDonald was allowed to work from home for six months — but when he tried returning to his Melbourne office in 2009 he “became too ill to continue’’ and took sick leave.

In May 2011 the CSIRO told Dr McDonald that it was “not medically possible for him to perform the requirements of his position’’.

AAT deputy president James Constance ruled that on the basis of the evidence of Dr McDonald, doctors and medical specialists, “I am satisfied that the migraines which immediately followed exposure to EMF were contributed to, to a significant degree, by Dr McDonald’s employment by the CSIRO’’.

The AAT ruling means he will continue to be paid 75 per cent of his salary, as compensation for his illness.

Dr McDonald said he felt schools should hardwire computers instead of using Wi-Fi.

“I fear for children who don’t know why they can’t concentrate, or why they feel nauseous,’’ he said.

“And cabling in the internet is much faster and more efficient than using Wi-Fi.’’

A Melbourne teacher with 30 years’ experience, Maureen Kirsch, quit supply teaching in 2011 because she felt Wi-Fi was giving her blinding headaches.

“There were schools I’d been going to for 10 or 15 years and never had a problem, then I started having problems with their Wi-Fi,’’ she said yesterday.

“I’d noticed that 17 laptops would go on and I couldn’t stand in the classroom.

“I felt like my head was going to explode, I came home with blurred vision and I couldn’t think straight.

“It happened continually and repeatedly until I was so ill I gave up.’’

Ms Kirsch said she first suffered symptoms when an electricity smart meter was installed in her home, and has since moved house.

Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton yesterday said electromagnetic sensitivity was not recognised as an illness.

He said there was “no known mechanism’’ for Wi-Fi to damage DNA.

Read Here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/csiro-scientist-dr-david-mcdonald-wins-compensation-for-wifi-pain/story-e6frfrnr-1226729178281

 

Oct 29

Unions NSW – Work Health Safety & Workers Compensation Conference 2013

 UNIONS-NSW

Unions NSW is conducting the 2013  Work Health and Safety and Workers Compensation Conference on Thursday 28 November 2013 at 8:30am – 4:00pm in the Trades Hall Auditorium, Lower Ground Floor, 4 Goulburn Street, Sydney (enter via 377 Sussex Street)

The conference is targeted at union delegates, health and safety representatives and union officials.  The cost is free for union members and members of the Injured Workers Support Network.

The conference agenda is about training and building participant’s capacity in WHS and Workers Compensation. Unions are reminded that a number of industrial agreements have leave for members to attend Unions NSW conferences and meetings.

Please refer to the email address below for a copy of the nomination form on the Safety Awards that will be conducted at the conclusion of the conference.

 

Please RSVP by COB 27th  November 2013 on (02) 9749 7566 or by email: adam.grumley@injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Oct 29

Workers rally over Vic compo change

The race to the bottom (as engineered by the NSW LNP some 12 months ago and recently continued on by the QLD LNP) has now spread to the Victorian LNP who are attacking the rights of emergency service workers to claim compensation for any work related post-traumatic stress.

Once again the only organisations to capitalise on any of these changes are the multinational Insurance companies who are too eager to profit at the expense of others.

Source News.com.au: Workers rally over Vic compo change

THE opposition has vowed to fight changes to Victoria’s road accident compensation scheme, which it says targets those who do the hardest job in the state.

Several hundred emergency services workers rallied in central Melbourne on Tuesday against the changes which are due to be voted on in parliament this week.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the changes will restrict access to compensation for post-traumatic stress for emergency services workers.

He said Labor would oppose the changes in the parliament and repeal them if it wins government in November next year.

“I don’t believe that limiting the rights of emergency services workers to access compensation if they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues as a result of their work is any way to take care of the people who take care of us,” Mr Andrews told the rally.

“Each of you puts yourself in harm’s way every day to keep us safe and undermining your rights, effectively attacking you, is no way to repay you the great debt that the community owes you.”

Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips rejected the claims in a letter to Ambulances Employees Association secretary Steve McGhie.

Mr Rich-Phillips wrote that there were no proposals that seek to treat emergency services workers in a different or new way, to the way they are currently treated

Read Here: http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/workers-rally-over-vic-compo-change/story-e6frfku9-1226748917955

 

 

Oct 29

Govt denies NSW truck inspector job cuts

safety

A NSW government plan to slash truck inspector jobs just weeks after a deadly tanker crash will put lives at risk, a union says.

The government denies Public Service Association claims that up to 21 heavy vehicle inspection jobs will be cut at the Roads and Maritime Services.

The union says more resources, not job cuts, are needed to ensure fatal accidents like the recent one on Sydney’s northern beaches don’t happen again.

PSA spokesman Ian Lambert says the cuts mean 500 fewer trucks will be inspected each week.

“The best deterrent is knowing there are expert government inspectors out on the roads ready to crack down on drivers and operators who flout the law,” he said.

But Roads Minister Duncan Gay said claims of job cuts were a “disgraceful distortion” perpetrated by the PSA’s Labor supporters.

“There have been absolutely no frontline inspectors axed,” he told 2UE Radio.

“Safety on our roads is the foremost concern of ours.”

Two motorists died after a fuel tanker lost control, crashed and burst into flames at Mona Vale, prompting an audit of Cootes Transport trucks.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said heavy vehicle inspectors and NSW Police were continuing to audit Cootes after the October 1 smash.

To date 304 heavy vehicles had been inspected, 244 defects notices issued and 605 defective items identified, she said.

Most heavy vehicles with defects had been repaired or were undergoing repairs.

Once repaired and declared safe, they could return to service.

Roads and Maritime Services also regularly carries out targeted and random compliance operations.

 

See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/govt-denies-nsw-truck-inspector-job-cuts/story-fn3dxiwe-1226748786628#sthash.O2k2k1z5.dpuf

Oct 29

IWSN Newcastle Meeting: Monday 4th November 2013, Trades Hall Council Newcastle – All Welcome

Injured Workers Support Network

Assisting and supporting Workers who have sustained

Work related injuries, illness and disabilities.

“Our mission is to assist and support workers and their families who have sustained work related injuries, illness and disabilities to rebuild their lives.”

Meeting Notice

Date: Monday the 4th of November

Time: Between 1.30 & 3.30pm

Venue:

Trades Hall Council

Suite 1 – 1st Floor, Devonshire House

406 King Street – Newcastle West

NSW 2302

Agenda

There are a number of initiatives we would like to discuss that will forward our aim of highlighting the adverse impact the June 2012 NSW Workers Compensation reforms are having on injured workers and their families.

Guest Speakers include

  • Mr John Robertson:  Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra Member of the Australian Labor Party,
  • Mr Michael Daley: Member for Maroubra,Shadow Treasurer, and Shadow Minister for Finance and Services,Member of the Legislative Assembly, Member of the Australian Labor Party
  • Mr Clayton Barr: Member of the Legislative Assembly, Member for Cessnock & Member of the Australian Labor Party.
  • Ms Linda Burney:  Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, Shadow Minister for the Hunter, and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast & Member of the Australian Labor Party
  • Injured workers & their families will be given the opportunity to address issues they are now facing as a result of the June 2012 NSW Workers Compensation System changes.
  • General business.

Important: Please RSVP by 01st November 2013 on (02) 9749 7566 or by email: adam.grumley@injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Oct 29

Cranes shut down on new RAH site after load crashed onto hand rail

crane

The construction union has raised concerns about the safety of cranes on the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site after an accident last week.

Source ABC News: Union questions RAH site safety after crane accident

The union says a load being lowered by a crane went out of control and hit a hand rail on Friday.

Eight cranes on the site were turned off after the incident and three remain shut down.

Safework SA is investigating the accident but the union believes it was caused by either a gearbox problem or computer error.

CFMEU State Secretary Aaron Cartledge says it is not a one-off incident.

Mr Cartledge says workers’ concerns have not always been listened to.

“These cranes have had problems with their anti-collision gear,” he said.

“We’ve had cranes that have actually struck each other because of the collision gear that’s failed, we’ve also had problems with their slew brakes in holding with a wind like today.

“We’ve had all sorts of problems with management here. They’ve been fairly obnoxious in dealing with our members in the crane crew. I think now they are starting to listen. We’ve got some very experienced tower crane drivers here and when they talk, they should listen.”

The consortium building the hospital says the work site is safe.

Hanson Yuncken and Leighton Contractors says it has a proud overall safety record and is cooperating with investigators on the crane inquiry.

Read Here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-28/rah-cranes-shut-down-because-of-accident/5050284

Oct 28

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell refuses to release documents saved from destruction at hands of Greg Pearce’s staff

question time

THERE were 14 bins or 93 storage boxes of documents being shredded when the Department of Premier and Cabinet visited former finance minister Greg Pearce’s office on the night he was sacked.

Source The Herald Sun: NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell refuses to release documents saved from destruction

But the government is refusing to release any of them under Freedom of Information laws, saying it would have to consult too many third parties to do so and it would be an “unreasonable and substantial diversion of the department’s resources”.

Bof with his head as Barry O’Farrell sacks Greg Pearce

For the first time the government has given a break-down of the sorts of documents involved in Shreddergate, having sorted them into the 93 boxes.

Forty-six contain departmental briefs and meeting notes, 13 have cabinet in-confidence documents, nine contain items of correspondence including invitations, eight have “publications, media, dvd”, and five are filled with office administration.

But 13 boxes contain “personal files and miscellaneous items, including pre-March 2011 and parliamentary business”.

Greg Pearce’s office raided by Department of Premier and Cabinet

The department seized the documents after complaints from the Opposition they were being shredded in the office on the evening of August 2 following Mr Pearce’s ousting by the Premier. Mr Pearce was not in the office at the time.

Correspondence to the Opposition from the Deputy General Counsel for the Premier’s department, Karen Smith, says: “Information included that 6 confidential waste disposal bins were retrieved from the former Minister’s office, and a further 8 confidential waste disposal bins were used by the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services branch to transport material in the former Minister’s office.

NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce spent $22,000 on the taxpayer

“I advise that the information retrieved from the former Minister’s office has subsequently been placed in a total of 93 records storage boxes.

“Of these 93 boxes, approximately 80 boxes contain government information, being information of a kind that an access application may be made under the GIPA Act.”

To complete the application, Ms Smith continues, would need “consultation with multiple third parties in respect of many of the documents”.

Ms Smith says to process the application would then “require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the Department’s resources”.

Minister Greg Pearce punished with a month-long holiday

Shadow special minister of state Walt Secord said yesterday he would go as far as it took, including a possible appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, to get hold of the documents.

“In Opposition, Barry O’Farrell promised openness and transparency, but in government we see otherwise,” Mr Secord said.

Mr Pearce was sacked after failing to tell Premier O’Farrell about the conflict of interest in the appointment of his wife’s boss to the board of Sydney Water.

Read Here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nsw-premier-barry-ofarrell-refuses-to-release-documents-saved-from-destruction-at-hands-of-greg-pearces-staff/story-fnii5s3y-1226747855226

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