Sep 02

Greg Pearce WorkCover appointee Kim Garling racked up $15k on US trip

SACKED Finance Minister Greg Pearce’s hand-picked $300,000 a year WorkCover Review executive Kim Garling racked up a $15,000 taxpayer-funded bill on a trip to the US within months of taking the job – and has just two serious complaints to consider at present.

Source The Herald Sun: Pearce appointee racks up $15k trip

When WorkCover reforms passed government, crossbenchers negotiated that a WorkCover Independent Review Officer be set up and Mr Pearce infamously appointed his personal secretary’s husband, former Law Society president Mr Garling.

Premier Barry O’Farrell sacks finance minister Greg Pearce

But despite having 31 staff and the office costing $8.4 million a year to run, Mr Garling was forced to admit the office had received just 350 complaints in almost a year in the job.

Of those, 50 matters are outstanding – only two of them “serious”.

Mr Garling, who was the centre of controversy after he immediately appointed Mr Pearce’s chief of staff Jo McCafferty’s husband Anthony Johnston as his acting Director of Information Technology – a temporary contract which has since ended – said in all his office had received 4000 calls since it was set up last September.

Greg Pearce’s office raided

There is no suggestion either Mr Garling or Mr Johnston’s appointments were without merit.

From February 5 to 14, he admits, he travelled at taxpayer expense to the USAto visit the offices of the Workers Compensation Board in Los Angeles and the offices of Workers Compensation Ombudsmen in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as well attending a meeting of the American Bar Association in Dallas

“The proposed travel was approved by the then Minister,” Mr Garling said.

The cost of the trip was $15,255.25 – $8753.74 for the business class airfare and $6519.51 on internal flights, taxis, accommodation and per diem allowance.

Mr Garling said the more than 4000 calls to 13WIRO workers compensation complaints line between October 2, 2012, and June 30, 2013 “range from matters which my office is able to answer quickly to matters of more serious concern about either the systems or the conduct of -nsurers”.

Minister Greg Pearce punished with a month-long holiday

“These may also involve information being received from injured workers by way of email with further information to assist with the review of the matters of concern,” he said.

“Of those contacts my office has been able to obtain prompt responses (generally within 48 hours) from the insurers, who have been very co-operative in seeking solutions to the matters of concern.

“Of those contacts the Complaints Division considered about 350 as requiring further consideration.

“Most of these matters have been closed however as at 30 June 2013 there were about 50 matters still to be finalised.

Greg Pearce refuses to talk about alleged travel rort

“I regard two of them as being in the serious category.”

Mr Garling, in answering questions about his travel, said he had also “travelled to Melbourne at the invitation of the Personal Injury Education Foundation to deliver a paper on the operation of the WIRO.”

A spokesman for Mr Pearce’s replacement, Finance Minister Andrew Constance, said: “I’ll be meeting with Mr Garling to discuss a number of issues.”

Read Here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/greg-pearce-workcover-appointee-kim-garling-racked-up-15k-on-us-trip/story-fnii5s3y-1226708616495

Aug 30

Compo changes ‘punish injured workers

Cuts

A WODONGA driver left out of pocket after losing his NSW WorkCover benefits says changes to the system will further punish injured workers.

Source The Border Mail Compo changespunish injured workers

Graeme Kidd was hurt while working as a courier driver for an Albury business in November, 2007.

His boss had ordered that he stack four-wheel-drive tyres on to pallets, the lifting and twisting action severely injuring his back.

Mr Kidd, 52, was eventually diagnosed with a multi-level internal disc disruption.

He spoke out yesterday at recent NSW changes to WorkCover.

The government announced last month that employers would pay 7.5 per cent less for premiums to fund its WorkCover scheme.

Premier Barry O’Farrell aims to rein in the scheme’s $4 billion debt and possible premium increases of up to 28 per cent.

“What we’re doing is through good management practice in the WorkCover scheme ensuring that those employees who are injured can return to work and do return to work,” Mr O’Farrell said.

But Mr Kidd said the government simply wanted to get people off WorkCover regardless of their need for it to support themselves and their families.

EDITORIAL:  Hurt workers need a fair go

After he was injured Mr Kidd received $8000 in compensation, based on his disability assessment.

Mr Kidd said that was in sharp contrast to Victoria, where he could have received up to $150,000 compensation — providing enough money to pay off an $80,000 mortgage and live a normal life.

The assessment stated there appeared little doubt he was now totally incapacitated for his pre-injury duties as a driver, labourer or welder.

His condition would probably gradually deteriorate, though it was likely he would have no right to sue for general damages for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.

“What was set in place already was bad enough,” he said.

“Now they’ve turned around and made it even worse.”

Mr Kidd said it would not be fair for the government to argue money was drained from WorkCover in the past by false claims.

He worked eight months in similar roles after his injury in 2007, being then a sole parent of Jessica and Stephanie, then aged 13 and 15.

“Because I was on a pension already I received WorkCover as well,” he said.

“The maximum pay you can get is $449 — if you’ve got kids it’s about another $80.”

Mr O’Farrell said last month a worker with a serious spinal injury who would have received $432 a week would get $736 a week under the changes.

http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1547812/compo-changes-punish-injured-workers/

Aug 28

New NSW Finance Minister bans lobbyists

banned

 

Although Greg Pearce has gone and the lobbyists have apparently been banned – the people of NSW are still stuck with the cruellest Workers Compensation System in the country. It must be repealed if the new Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance is serious about what the community really needs.

LOBBYISTS have had the door shut on them with new state Finance Minister Andrew Constance taking the unprecedented step of banning them from his office.

Souce Andrew Clennell The Daily Telegraph: New NSW Finance Minister Andrew Constance bans lobbyists

The move will freeze lobbyists from the lucrative finance portfolio – with banks and insurance companies traditionally paying big bucks to get their foot through the door.

Premier Barry O’Farrell sacks finance minister Greg Pearce

“No one wants a Washington-style lobbying culture in NSW which is built on access and who you know,” Mr Constance said.

“I want business to be able to deal with me direct.”

His move comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed that controversial powerbroker Michael Photios’s business partner David Begg was meeting sacked former Finance Minister Greg Pearce with clients almost every month during his time in the job.

Mr Constance said he attended a meeting with another minister, whom he declined to name, last Monday unaware lobbyists were going to be in the room.

Minister Greg Pearce punished with a month-long holiday

He does not want that situation again and does not want to find himself in charge of “procurement, ICT and government property” and being influenced by lobbyists.

“I don’t need to meet one-on-one with lobbyists about client issues,” Mr Constance said. “If people want to meet me, do so direct.

“My point is, from my perspective, if people want to meet with the Minister for Finance and Services the door’s open to business.”

He said he was OK for lobbying to remain legal but did not believe it should be involved in access to him or other ministers.

“The (lobbying) industry itself can add value with strategic counsel, media relations but the issue around access – that Americanised approach, I just don’t think it’s what the community wants to see.”

Mr Constance said the ban would also apply to his staff.

He declined to comment on the situation with his predecessor, where Mr Pearce had let Mr Begg and Mr Photios’s firm in to lobby on behalf of insurance companies for Green Slip reform, and had held meetings with many other Photios clients.

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

The Daily Telegraph revealed through a freedom of information search that Mr Pearce and his office saw PremierState clients Hotel Employers Mutual, the Australian Hotels Association, Allianz Insurance, the Australian ­Rehabilitation Providers ­Association and the Interact Group.

Mr Photios put a brave face on the minister’s pronouncement yesterday and said most of his business was “strategic advice” not door opening so he would stick to that.

Read Here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/new-nsw-finance-minister-andrew-constance-bans-lobbyists/story-fni0cx12-1226704673948

Aug 28

Workplace deaths are falling

ASU

With claims of the Rudd government’s culpability in the deaths of insulation installers under the Housing Insulation Program once again receiving attention, it’s timely to look at how workplace safety has fared under Labor.

Sourse ASU: Workplace deaths are falling – ASU NSW

This data on the fall in workplace deaths is from online news site crikey.com. Thanks to them for getting this story out to the public.

Here’s the full story by Bearnard Keane  on workplace deaths under Labor (8 July 2013)

Since 2007-08, according to data from Safe Work Australia, the incidences of compensated workplace fatalities have fallen by one-third, rapidly accelerating a slow downward trend since the turn of the century.

workplace_deaths_graph

The most recent data suggests the number of deaths per 100,000 workers fell below two in 2010-11, although this figure is likely to be adjusted upwards as more data for that year becomes available. Conservatively, that means 100 fewer people died than otherwise would have.

The incidence of serious claims has also fallen, from 14.2 per 1000 workers in 2007-08 to 13 in 2009-10. Current data, which will be revised in the future, suggests the figure is below 11 for 2010-11.

The fall has partly been driven by a safer construction industry, which in 2010-11 was on-track for a record low incidence of fatalities of below four per 100,000 employees compared to over 10 in 2003-04. As a large employer of over 1,000,000 workers, safety in construction has a major influence on overall workplace fatality rates. The transport sector, which employs around 600,000 people, has also seen significant falls in fatalities: the Rudd government inherited a rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 employees; that was 9.9 in 2009-10 and 8.5 in 2010-11.

However, Australia’s least safe industry continues to be agriculture. Agriculture is one of Australia’s smallest major industries in terms of employment, with just over 300,000 workers currently, which means the numbers are more volatile, but agriculture easily accounts for the greatest number of deaths. In 2010-11 there were 60 recorded fatalities in agriculture, compared to 38 in construction. The most common cause of compensated deaths in agriculture (a potentially misleading statistic because compensated fatalities only apply to employees, who are just over half the workforce on farms) are vehicle accidents or being hit by vehicles or other moving objects.

How much have government policies contributed to this significant fall in workplace fatalities? Bill Shorten has emphasised workplace safety since he became Workplace Relations Minister. Anthony Albanese has made road transport safety a priority as Infrastructure Minister, although the Safe Rates Tribunal has only started work this year; the main changes in road transport so far have been a significant expansion in the number of rest areas. The downgrading and then abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the primary task of which was harassment of unionists in the construction industry, is also likely to see a greater focus on safety; under the former Howard government, workplaces fatalities in the construction industry spiked when the Building Industry Taskforce, the precursor to the ABCC, was established in 2002.

One way or another, Australian workplaces, on the most recent data, are significantly safer than six years ago, except in agriculture, which remains a stain on our workplace safety record.

 

 

Aug 26

Abbott endorses O’Farrell’s workers comp demolition job

Abbott

With the federal election only days away, it seems that Tony Abbott may have harboured a desire to take over Workers Compensation on a national scale as far back as 2003.

Quote 2003  – Federal workplace relations minister Tony Abbott has plans to make it even worse. He is keen for the federal government to take over state workers’ compensation schemes, claiming this would “simplify” the scheme. – See more at: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/29021#sthash.4ENQ2Phg.dpuf

Recently during an interview on radio station 2SM, Mr Abbott went as far as declaring his support for the O’Farrell Government’s changes to the Workers Compensation System as ‘moving in the right direction’? Could this mean the changes made in NSW could be used as a blueprint for the Workers Compensation System on a national scale?

Abbott endorses O’Farrell’s workers comp demolition job

Workers fear similar moves nationally

Tony Abbott’s endorsement of Barry O’Farrell’s workers comp demolition job should sound an alarm bell for workers across the country, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said today.

When questioned this morning on the John Laws program about whether he would intervene to fix the mess created by Barry O’Farrell, Mr Abbott said:

“I’m reluctant to interfere particularly where I think the states are moving in the right direction.”

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said the comments were a clear signal of what life would be like for working people under Tony Abbott.

“Just as Barry O’Farrell has taken a scalpel to the job, rights and services that working people in NSW rely on, so too will Tony Abbott,” Mr Lennon said.

“It’s easy to run around the state in a hard hat and a fluoro vest and pose as a friend of workers, but it’s quite another to actually support and uphold policies that represent their interests.

“Barry O’Farrell has ripped away at benefits to sick and injured workers. This morning, Tony Abbott has endorsed that action.

“It makes you wonder what else Tony Abbott has in store for working people if he’s elected Prime Minister.”

Under Barry O’Farrell’s attacks on workers comp:

* Payments to most sick and injured workers stop after two and a half years – whether they’ve recovered or not;

* An injury or illness on the way to and from work is no longer covered;

* Coverage of medical expenses has been slashed;

* The changes are retrospective

“Barry O’Farrell’s attack on workers comp was a colossal free kick for insurance companies and employers. Obviously Tony Abbott wants to look after the same special interests.”

Read Here: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofRiverinaLabor/posts/565482736803898

 

 

Aug 26

Workplace bullying costs businesses billions

854263-bullying-stress

WORKPLACE bullying is rife, and can cost businesses billions each year. So what can you do about it?

Source News.com.au bullying costs businesses billions

Workplace bullying can have catastrophic consequences. Christine Hodder lodged two formal complaints, about bullying, harassment and victimisation by officers at Cowra Ambulance Station, where she was the first female staff member in 1999. The first complaint was in 2001 and the second was a few months before she committed suicide in April 2005, at the age of 38. “In the past six years I have been badly treated as other staff members collectively bullied, belittled and intimidated me,” she said in the complaint. “The staff in this station has constantly alienated and attacked my character and physical appearance since my arrival.” A subsequent NSW State Parliament inquiry into the Ambulance Service found that bullying and harassment existed within the service. Hodder’s husband, Jason, said at the time, “People need to be supported. You can’t just say, ‘Put up or shut up’.”

Bullying “rife”

It appears that bullying behaviour is rife in Australian workplaces. A survey of 800 employees by Drake International found that half of the respondents had witnessed bullying and 25 percent had been bullied. Frightening statistics indeed, but there is a difference between bullying behaviour and harassment, says Dr Annie Wyatt, a senior lecturer and occupational health and safety consultant at the University of New South Wales.

“Harassment can be a single instance of offensive behaviour which usually involves race, age, sex or other criteria that come under anti-discrimination legislation,” she says. “Bullying is a pattern of unreasonable behaviour and is defined as a workplace hazard. Often, there is no proof and no witnesses, and even if work colleagues know what is going on, they tend not to speak up.” Workplace bullying can cause several problems, including anxiety disorders, stress, depression and insomnia.

“Workplace bullying involves the repetitive, prolonged abuse of power,” says Evelyn Field, a clinical psychologist and author of Bully Blocking (Finch). “That is, unreasonable, escalating behaviours aggressively directed at one or more workers and causing humiliation, offence, intimidation and distress.”

Just like the schoolyard bully, the most obvious and easiest-to-detect bullying behaviour involves swearing, taunting, put-downs and even physical abuse, but more common is an insidious form of subtle intimidation: silences when the target of the bully walks into the room, bitchy comments in front of other colleagues, the spreading of malicious gossip to co-workers, not being invited to crucial meetings, rolling of eyeballs when the target speaks, being stripped of critical duties and constantly set up to fail, and being excluded from social events.

Everyone is at risk

According to Ms Field, workplace bullying can affect anyone, in any career, at any level, within any organisation, at any time. “Workplace bullying cuts across all professions, can be perpetrated by both genders and happens between management, employees and co-workers. There are also cases of bullying going upwards – employees bullying their managers.”

Research indicates that while it is usually men who do the bullying, as they are more often in management positions, there is evidence that women use bullying behaviours too. “While male bullies harass men and women, women appear to prefer to choose other women as targets,” says Ms Field. There are two main types of bullies: those with an anti-social personality disorder, and sociopaths, who take pleasure in hurting people.

The rest are normal people, who would generally be horrified when it is pointed out that they are exhibiting bullying-type behaviours. “Most bullies are not aware that what they are doing is classified as bullying. They’ll justify it by [saying] they are just getting the job done, that their colleague has brought it on themselves or it is simply a personality clash,” says Dr Wyatt.

Green-eyed monster

Dr Wyatt says there are various reasons that bullying takes place. “In difficult financial times, there is competition for resources, so people undermine others to shore up their own position.” Another theme evident in the research into workplace bullying is envy. Mostly, the targets of bullying behaviour are “successful, high-performing employees. The perpetrator envies them and seeks to undo them,” says Dr Wyatt.

This is what happened to Lynne Lomax* from Geelong, Victoria, who had started a listings magazine that was bought out by another company. “I had always been a high achiever and was confident in my ability,” she says. “However, my boss was verbally abusive and the intensity of the attacks were difficult to cope with. The more he harassed me, the more I was determined to make him see what an asset I was. I got to the point where I was working 80 hours a week, but was still being told I was useless. I had to email him when I wanted to leave my desk to go to the toilet.

The bullying had a devastating effect on me; I had a breakdown and suffered post-traumatic stress. When WorkSafe were investigating the complaint, I found that many other people had been bullied by him over the years.” “The targets of bullying are often caught by surprise,” adds Ms Field. “Over a period of time, self-doubt creeps in and they lose their confidence. It’s like a brainwashing; they can start to believe that they’re underperforming.”

Taking responsibility

In today’s corporate culture, an organisation may condone bullying as part of a tough management style, but it has serious economic consequences. According to the Workplace Bullying Project Team at Griffith University, the financial cost of bullying to business is between $6 and $13 billion per year and can include decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, staff turnover and poor morale.

“When bullying is entrenched in the culture of an organisation it is often thought of as a rite of passage, as it is the way that the perpetrator has learned to manage,” says Ms Field. But there is a clear difference between a tough boss and a bully. “A tough boss can still be fair as long as they are treating everyone equally,” says Ms Field. “Whereas bullying behaviour targets an individual as the odd one out, and a bully will mete out different treatment to the target.” There is a line between bullying behaviour and managers making unpopular decisions. “Justifying decisions that people may not like is entirely different [to bullying],” says Dr Wyatt.

The wider issue, she says, is the lack of people-management skills in the workplace. “Many people are promoted because they are good at their jobs, but they may not have the interpersonal management, listening and communication skills needed to manage their teams. Hence, they may manage in a fear-creating manner which leads to greater problems.”

When employees are valued and are working together, their organisation thrives. However, this fact can be lost on someone who aims to increase their own personal power through intimidation. So what is the best practice when a workplace bullying complaint is lodged? Field says it’s important to validate the target’s perception of the situation. “By taking their complaint seriously, the situation can be resolved. A denial makes it worse.”

“Employers need to realise this issue is important,” adds Dr Wyatt. “There need to be enforced policies, procedures and training for all staff about what constitutes acceptable behaviour. There is training available and organisations have a duty to take it up.”

* Name changed.

What to do if you are being bullied

Dr Wyatt says if you suspect that you are being targeted in the workplace, arm yourself with as much information as possible.

– Document all alleged bullying behaviour.
– Determine whether you can deal with the situation yourself by informing the person who is bullying you that it is unacceptable. It may be valuable to have a witness present.
– Find out who in your organisation is the most appropriate person to discuss your concerns with.
– Engage in a discussion with your employer. This can be difficult, but it is the action most likely to stop the bullying.
– If you feel you need to see a psychologist, your GP can organise a referral.
– Talk to your occupational health authority, union or a lawyer.

For more information on bullying, visit www.bullying.com.au

Aug 23

Recap: Workplace bullying: Are NSW WorkCover failing in their obligation to protect and assist victims? Have your say

WorkCover-Bullying-Report

Reminder – Submissions close today(Friday 23rd August 2013).

Last week the upper house of NSW Parliament voted to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry into bullying within WorkCover NSW.

Details of the committee including when submissions will be accepted, hearing dates and more will be available on the Parliamentary website here.

According to the Terms of Reference (refer below) this inquiry would like to hear from anyone who has had issues with NSW WorkCover in relation to workplace bullying.  This can include their failure to address complaints of workplace bullying or the mismanagement of their workers compensation claim that resulted from workplace bullying.

Interestingly, according to our survey (surveymonkey.com/s/LFL9BYW) less than 4% of respondents have faith in the WorkCover authority to address workplace bullying.

We urge anyone who has had a less than favourable experience with WorkCover to make a submission to the inquiry.   Please contact myself adam.grumley@injuredworkerssupport.org.au on  9749 7566 for further details.

TERMS OF REFERENCE
Inquiry into allegations of bullying in WorkCover NSW
That General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1 inquire into and report on allegations on bullying in
WorkCover, and in particular:
a. the culture of WorkCover,
b. WorkCover’s role as the State Regulator of occupational health and safety as it relates to
bullying in the workplace,
c. appropriate recommendations to address issues raised; and
d. any other related matter.

Aug 22

Peel man crushed to death under tip tray

workplace-fatality

The NSW Workcover Authority has a responsibility to ensure workplaces are safe for both employers and employees alike – yet it has decided not to investigate a recent workplace fatality.

POLICE have revealed the name of a 23-year-old man who was killed in a tragic accident at Portland on Tuesday afternoon where the tip tray on his vehicle failed.

Source Western Advocate:Peel man crushed to death under tip tray

Peel resident Michael Booth was delivering a load of firewood to a property on Reservoir Road at around 2.15pm when he began to have problems with the hydraulic lifter on the tip tray of the small truck carrying the wood.

He went to investigate the problem.

Police officers’ initial observations suggest that a weld on the back of the chassis rail failed, and that allowed the unit to rock forward on the pivot ram, crushing the man.

However, the vehicle will be subjected to a more thorough examination.

The property owner was present when the accident happened and called police straight away. Police Rescue also attended the scene and it took them more than two hours to release the body.

A report has been sent to the coroner. Workcover were informed about the  accident but won’t investigate.

Read Here: http://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/1721773/peel-man-crushed-to-death-under-tip-tray/?cs=115

 

Aug 21

Tony Abbott is singing off Barry O’Farrell’s song sheet

It is the Injured Workers of NSW who are now suffering as a result of the changes made to Workers Compensation System by the Barry O’Farrell Liberal Government. With the federal election only weeks away, Tony Abbott  has made it very clear, if elected he will not intervene to reverse the effects these changes are now having on the people of NSW - quote made by Mr Abbott on John Laws Radio 2SM “I’m reluctant to interfere, particularly where I think the states are moving in the right direction,” Scary times ahead indeed.

Source Working Life: Tony Abbott is singing off Barry O’Farrell’s song sheet

WORKERS in New South Wales could be forgiven for feeling a pretty unsettling sense of déjà vu at the moment.

A Liberal leader is on the campaign trail, and he is going out of his way to reassure everyone that if he takes office, there will be no negative impact on workers.

Tony Abbott promises that jobs won’t be lost, rights at work won’t be stripped away, entitlements won’t be cut, and protections won’t be weakened.

Voters have heard this before

But NSW voters heard this exact same lullaby in very recent history. It was sung by Barry O’Farrell during the 2011 election.

Yet what happened when Mr O’Farrell took office is exactly the same as always happens when the Liberals are allowed to pull the levers of power.

Workers get hit hard.

NSW voters were not told in 2011 that the workers compensation safety net would be cut away, meaning those injured at work will face life-shattering expenses. They were not told that 15,000 public sector jobs would be slashed, devastating individual lives and local economies. Nor were they told that wages for police, for nurses, for firefighters – and for all other public sector workers – would be capped at levels below inflation.

Voters were not told in 2011 that public assets like our ports and power infrastructure would be sold off to the private sector. And they were not told that the state’s independent workplace umpire, the Industrial Relations Commission, would be critically weakened.

None of this was mentioned at all on the campaign trail – indeed, most of it was emphatically denied.


“It is deeply disturbing to think of the pincer movement NSW workers would be caught in should Mr Abbott win in September.”


I suppose at least Tony Abbott, by comparison, is being up front about a few of the attacks on workers he will introduce.

He is up front about reintroducing the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), whose sole role under the Howard Government was to harass and intimidate union members on construction sites.

He is upfront about the fact that the superannuation guarantee rise that is scheduled for next year (from 9.25% to 9.5%) will be halted. And he is upfront about a review of the Fair Work Act, which is overwhelmingly likely to swing power back toward employers.

But I think voters in NSW have every right to cast a pretty jaundiced eye at Tony Abbott when he starts denying previous positions he has held and contradicting his senior frontbenchers.

When he says that penalty rates are not in his sights. When he says award conditions won’t be cut.

When he says that halting the rise of the superannuation guarantee will only be ‘temporary’, and that he will eventually continue with Labor’s incremental plan to get it to 12%. And when he says he will retain the power of the Fair Work Commission.

Abbott will use the O’Farrell playbook

In fact, it should now be abundantly clear to NSW voters what Mr Abbott and his Liberal team will do if he wins office.

He will use the O’Farrell playbook: rather than charging through the front door with a WorkChoices-style plan all at once, his attacks on workers’ rights and conditions will carried out one-by-one. It will be WorkChoices by stealth.

The Liberals will always dance to the tune of their backers and natural constituency – big business. And big business is certainly not shy about declaring what they want to see: scrapped penalty rates, a slashed minimum wage, the abandonment of collective bargaining, and the eradication of the Fair Work Act in favour of WorkChoices Mk II.

It is deeply disturbing to think of the pincer movement NSW workers would be caught in should Mr Abbott win in September. They find themselves simultaneously attacked by Barry from Macquarie St and Tony from Canberra.

We need to ensure that there is some sort of balance. Otherwise the next few years could be tough indeed for working people in this state.

Read Here: http://workinglife.org.au/2013/08/21/tony-abbott-is-singing-off-barry-ofarrells-song-sheet/

 

Aug 20

Why it’s important to make sure your payment summary is correct

TAXThis story was supplied to us by another brave injured worker, who just like the rest of us, entered the Workers Compensation System thinking their well being would be given priority – only to realise that once you are within the system, it starts to impact other areas of your life – it seems that even taxation can become an issue within the NSW Workers Compensation System.

I am an injured worker. I was bullied at work and am psychologically injured. I have not been able to work for over a year, and have been on worker’s compensation all that time. I experienced the usual delays with weekly payments commencing, and then my first payment was a lump sum to cover a period of several weeks.

A couple of months after payments commenced the insurer advised they had made an error in calculating my weekly payment amount and had overpaid me. They required repayment, but would take instalments from future weekly payments. They wanted the GROSS amount of the overpayment repaid. The overpayment and the repayment would occur within the same financial year. Perhaps other injured workers have experienced a similar situation.

I ended up taking my concerns about the amount of the repayments to the Workcover Independent Review Office. Turned out there is an ATO document (under information for businesses, rather than for individuals, which is why I missed it when I checked the ATO website) called: “PAYG withholding – repayment of overpaid amounts”.  That document clearly showed the insurer was wrong seeking repayment of the gross overpayment, and I was only required to repay to the insurer the NET amount of the overpayment because the overpayment and repayment occured in the same financial year. The document also states that, where the overpayment and repayment are in the same financial year, the Group Certificate for that year should NOT include the overpayment in the payment summary amount. Clear as day, problem solved one may think.

The insurer then admitted their error, but by then I had repaid in excess of the NET amount of the overpayment. The insurer then reimbursed me the excess. That should have been the end of the insurer stuff ups, but, unfortunately it was not.

The insurer provided my group certificate in July for the 2012-13 financial year. They, incorrectly, included the total of the overpayment in the payment summary amount! It makes it look like I got paid more than I really got. I then began another battle with the insurer.

Despite their error being pointed out, and despite me showing them where they went wrong and what the correct amounts should have been on the group certificate, the insurer is refusing to correct their error. They say they have addressed my concerns! The insurer also seems to have forgotten they previously wanted me to repay the gross overpayment, and now alleges it was some sort of computer error than caused them to be seeking from me repayment of the net overpayment amount! In dealing with the matter the insurer has, in my view, acted unconscionably. The insurer is not following ATO requirements, nor acting rationally. They refuse to acknowledge their mistake. Other documents they have provided to me indicate some of their records are incorrect.

The insurer is seeking to have me lodge my tax return using the group certificate they provided.  I will not do that, because, among other reasons, that would be dishonest. They have put me to the trouble of having to lodge my tax return by completing a statutory declaration, which has details of the error on the group certificate and outlines the correct details. If the errors were not corrected in a document of this type, then imagine an injured worker later getting a lump sum compensation payment, which involves paying back weekly payments already to the injured worker – they may end up having to pay back more than they received as weekly payments due to the error in the insurer’s records.

Any injured worker who receives a group certificate from an insurer may want to check what they were paid, and what tax was withheld, during the relevant financial year against the amounts shown on the group certificate. This is even more important to do if there were any overpayments and repayments of weekly payments.

 

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