||Issue No. 182||13 June 2003|
The Dead Couple
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
Dust Busters – MUA Sails into Allianz Fight
MUA official Barry Robson described any departmental official working to accommodate insurance giant Allianz, as "lower than a Patrick's scab" in an emotional response to company efforts to lure him into its campaign to brush the Dust Diseases Tribunal.
"If they (state government) think Patrick was a bit of a go they haven't seen anything yet of the waterside workers, I can tell you," Robson promised.
Robson said he was literally sick to death of burying friends killed by asbestosis and mesothelioma. He has attended three such funerals this year and had attempts to win compensation for dying former workmates, and the wives who nursed them, constantly frustrated by insurance companies.
Robson was furious at Allianz spin, following last week's unmasking of its lobbying by the CFMEU and AMWU. The company put out a press release saying far from wanting to abolish the dust board, it sought changes that would speed up compensation and ensure peace of mind for victims and their families.
Robson said the author of the press release had been pressing him for a month for a one-on-one meeting.
"This guy keeps ringing me, saying we can do it faster, we can do it better. I've told him - don't go there mate, don't bloody go there.
"I have done cases for 46 members being killed by these diseases and won every one in court but only 16 have got a pension off the Dust Diseases Board. I have waited 18 months to get a response to our appeal for a review and, guess what, they are not going to review any of these blokes.
"Who holds it up? They bloody do.
"They say we shouldn't worry too much because 90 percent of these people are retired, they don't really need the money because they are going to die any bloody way.
"Usually, in our industry, the wife is the carer who goes through the last months. They don't want to compensate the carer. Many a time I have had to stand up there in Goulburn St and defend why the wife should get some compensation for looking after her bloke while he dies. Why? Because they hold it up, they increase the legal costs.
"Then we find out this government is considering getting rid of the Dust Tribunal. I thought there were some low lives in this world and they were called Patrick scabs but if there is anything lower it would be some state government official doing the leg work for this lot."
The CFMEU and AMWU have both attacked Allianz for taking insurance premiums off companies like Hardys for decades, knowing the risk involved, and then trying to shift the payout to the public purse through the Accident Compensation Commission.
AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, said the company was seeking state government support to transform a poor business decision into a windfall profit.
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