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  Issue No 23 Official Organ of LaborNet 23 July 1999  





Hands off Workers Comp

By HT Lee - CFMEU Construction

Building and metal unions will rally on Wednesday 28 July at the Sydney Town Hall Square to protest against the worsening crisis in workers compensation.

The rally is organised by the Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU), the Australian Workers Union (AWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the Plumbers (CEPU Plumbing Division) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

After the Town Hall rally the workers will march to Parliament House.

WorkCover is in crisis with a debt of $1.7billion in the workers compensation scheme--not enough to pay existing and future claims.

This crisis is a direct result of bosses not paying their share of workers compensation premiums and mismanagement.

What the building industry wants

� A workers compensation industry scheme run by unions and legitimate employers

� Developers made to pay a 30% workers comp levy up front to fund the scheme

� The remaining 70% paid by employers monthly

� Establish a special unit representing employees and employers to co-ordinate and audit bosses rorting the system

� A proper industry rehabilitation system for injured workers

� Compulsory workers compensation coverage for all workers including subcontractors, sole traders etc

The Master Builders Association (MBA), the Master Painters and Decorators, the Civil Contractors Federation, other employer organisations, large companies and legitimate subcontractors have endorsed this solution.

They know the current system is in crisis and legitimate employers are having to pay extra premiums to cover bosses rorting the system.

How the bosses cheat and gets contracts

Essentially, workers compensation is an honour system--employers take out a policy and advise the insurance company how much in wages they will pay over 12 months. They are then charged a premium based on the type of risk involved in the work. Because building work is dangerous the premium is 9.36% of wages as compared to a child care worker whose premium rate is 1.58%.

Unfortunately the bosses lie. They lie about how much they pay and about the type of work they do.

The level of non-compliance is estimated to be over 40%. Many bosses rort the system by under declaring the wages they pay.

For example if an excavation company had 50 workers on $50,000 per worker in wages each year the company would have to pay 9.36% in premiums on an annual wage bill of $2,500,000 which amounts to $234,000.

However, if the company lies and tells the insurance company it only employs 10 workers on $35,000 per worker the company would only have to pay 9.36% in premiums on an annual wage bill of $350,000. This amounts to $32,760--a saving of $201,240.

If the company tells more lies they can rort the system even more. For example if the company told the insurance company they are involved in hiring machinery and not operating the machines, they would only pay a 3.66% premium of their under-stated wage bill of $350,000. This amounts to a premium of $12,810--a further saving of $19,950.

By indulging in these rorts a boss would only pay $12,810 in premiums instead of $234,000--what a rip off!

A further result of this is companies doing the right thing by their workers are being undercut by companies rorting the system. This puts workers jobs in jeopardy.

Bosses response unacceptable

Confronted by the workers comp crisis the bosses' response is to reduce the benefits to injured workers and the payments made to the widows and families of workers killed in work place accidents.

This is not on. The crisis has not been created by workers but by mismanagement and employers rorting the scheme.

What we need now is for the Carr Labor Government to legislate and authorise the establishment of a scheme which protects workers.

Its time for Carr to listen to workers instead of the big end of town.

It is vital workers

� Attend the stop work rally on Wednesday 28 July 10am Sydney Town Hall Square

Send a letter of support for the reform to the Carr Labor Government by faxing it to: (02) 9228 3935.HT LEe


*    Visit the CFMEU

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 23 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: An Economic Wet
Dr Christopher Sheil on economic rationalism and the 1997-98 water failures in Adelaide and Sydney.
*  Unions: The Stench from the South
In 1997 the entire Adelaide metropolitan area was drenched in foul, sulphorous, sewerage odours, emanating from the Bolivar waste water treatment plant.
*  Environment: Trading into Trouble
Seattle, USA, is shaping up as demonstrator mecca in the lead up to World Trade Organisation talks.
*  History: Eveliegh Rail Reunion
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site on Sunday, August 29.
*  International: Bosses Use Armed Gangs to Break Russian Picket
On 9 July 1999, eighty masked, uniformed gunmen accompanied by the local prosecutor and other officials tried to storm the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, under occupation by workers for the past eighteen months.
*  Satire: New Refugee Crisis: Journalists Flee Peace Zone
The camps are once again full in the Albanian border town of Gruntiez.
*  Review: 10 Reasonably Interesting Moments in Film
Cultural theorist Snag Cleaver flies off the handle again..

»  Water Staff Pull Plug on Pay Talks
»  Hotel Survey Warns of New Years Labour Crisis
»  Pfizer Jerks Workers Off
»  Shafted: Howard Squibs on Entitlements
»  Olympics Jobs Shortage Looms
»  Nurses Change Tack on Public Health Campaign
»  Actors Save Conditions from Reith Attack
»  Global Mariner Shines Spotlight on Howard Shipping Policy
»  New Currawong Deal Ends 25 Years of Trying
»  Hands off Workers Comp
»  Scully Off the Rails Over Contract Security
»  PiersWatch and The Chaser in Mega Merger Deal
»  Apology to Dr Bridget Griffen-Foley

»  Guest Report
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  Upcoming Chippo Politics Events
»  Bright Oakdale Idea
»  Calling All Linesmen
»  Dissent Within the Ranks!!
»  Reply to Don Macchiato

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