|Issue No 119||16 November 2001|
Compo Fire Reignites as Bill Hits Deck
The battle in NSW over workers compensation entitlements is on again after the Carr Government released new laws cutting injured workers rights just days after the ALP's federal election defeat.
Unions have vowed to renew the political and industrial campaign that culminated in the picket on State Parliament in June if the government pushes through with plans to strip injured workers of their right to sue negligent employers.
The first phase of the campaign will begin on Tuesday with full-page newspaper advertisements and information fliers distributed at Sydney railway stations.
Labor Council officials have already begun negotiations with cross-bench MPs who hold the balance of power in the NSW Upper House and could soften the cuts if they voted with the Opposition.
But they have also warned of industrial action in the coming weeks, with the Bill due to be introduced in Parliament on November 27. Bizarrely, this is the same date the changes will come into affect - with the Bill seeking to be retrospective.
Bill Fails Test
Unions are concerned that the Bill fails the government's stated test that injured workers should not be left worse off by the reforms in the following ways:
· the amendments effectively rule out the right to sue a negligent employer;
· they abolish the discretion for insurers to commute a workers weekly benefits into a lump sum payment
· they introduce a method of assessing psychiatric and psychological injury that has not been scientifically tested or validated
· and they reintroduce some of the most Draconian parts of the Bill that the government originally proposed in April including:
- binding medical panels with no right of appeal
- no right for legal representation for a worker whose claim is disputed.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the government should not under-estimate the gravity of these concerns.
"Labor Council and affiliates are angry at the way their members have been treated by the Carr Government," Robertson says. "The treatment of injured workers is a fundamental issue for trade unions.
"We will continue to negotiate with the government but we want to make it clear that we will pursue industrial and political action if our concerns are not addressed."
He also called on the government to consider increasing premiums to ensure that employers shouldered some of the burden for blow-out in the scheme.
Interview: Out of the Rubble
Michael Costa argues that Saturday's election result could have been much, much worse.
Unions: Sixty-Forty Are Good Odds!
John Robertson argues that while there may be many problems with the ALP, union power is not one of them.
Politics: Wrong Way, Go Back
Labor's failure in the federal election is the result of more than bad luck. It is the result of a shift to populism that has left the Party bereft of core principles.
Campaign Diary: Week Five: All Washed Up
If you can stand it, relive the fatefull final week of a most remarkable election campaign.
International: Trade Piracy Unmasked
As the trade barons met in Qatar to chart out their agenda, George Monbiot looks at the machinations behind the scenes.
Factions: The Party's Over
Chris Christodoulou renews his call for a breakdown of the factional system to bring new life into the ALP
History: The Fall-Out
Neale Towart looks back to Labor's reaction to its loss in the 1954 'Petrov election' and finds warnings for today's post mortem.
Media: Elite Defeat
Rowan Cahill looks at the intellectual paucity in the PM's ongoing attacks on 'elite opinion'.
Satire: Crean 'Listens To Australian People': Will Sink Refugee Boats
Simon Crean, the most likely candidate to replace Kim Beazley as Labor's leader, says he will take heed of the message sent to the ALP by Australian voters at the Federal Election.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005