Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 24 Official Organ of LaborNet 30 July 1999  




*  Interview: The Man in the Hot Seat
WorkCover general manger John Grayson cut his teeth in the trade union movement. Now he’s trying to save the state’s workers compensation scheme.
*  Unions: Turning Up The Heat: Bush Fire Officers Seek Award Justice
"We want an award for the job that we do, not the job other people want us to do". Donald Bushby, and his fellow Fire Control Officers, know what they want. It's simple: an award for FCO's and deputy FCO's, an award that recognises who they are, the job they do, the pressures they have to live with.
*  International: The Virtual Labour Congress
International trade unions are launching an online debate on Labour in the 21th century.
*  Legal: The Source of the Issue
Recent legal developments place the spotlight on the outsourcing of government activities.
*  Review: The Split that Changed a Nation
A new book looks at the Cold War ALP split that redefined politics in this country.
*  Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
Read the latest issue of Labour Review, Labor Council's resource for unionists.
*  Satire: Man Takes Home Pay - More Pokies Needed
The NSW government has expressed concern following the release of a second report by the Productivity Commission which shows that a majority of employed people still spend their pay on luxury items such as food and clothing for their family.

The Man in the Hot Seat - WorkCover boss John Grayson

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Building workers take to the street

Sixty Cents A Week to Protect Entitlements
Workers entitlements could be protected for as little as 60 cents per week, according to an independent analysis commissioned by NSW Department of Industrial Relations.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Comp — The Rorts Have to Stop
Over 15,000 building, construction and metal workers held a peaceful but noisy demonstration on Wednesday 28 July to protest against the crisis in the NSW workers compensation.
[ Full Story » ]

Steggles Roasted Over Family-Busting Policies
Chicken manufacturer Steggles has been accused of family-busting policies after telling a mother of three to start work at 6.30am or face termination.
[ Full Story » ]

Youth Worker Death Prompts Safety Fears
The fatal stabbing of a worker at a juvenile detention centre has sparked statewide action by colleagues concerned that budget cuts are placing lives at risk.
[ Full Story » ]

Rail Security Guards Miss Danger Spots
New statistics showing commuters are far more likely to be attacked on stations than on trains raise doubts over the Carr Government’s decision to slash station staff and replace them with private security guards.
[ Full Story » ]

New South Coast Labor Body Seeks Recognition
A new body representing unions that have pulled out of the South Coast Labor Council is seeking affiliation with the ACTU and NSW Labor Council.
[ Full Story » ]

Howard Ministers, Employment Advocate in the Dock
Peter Reith and his Employment Advocate are facing legal action under his own anti-union laws to stop them interfering in the construction industry.
[ Full Story » ]

Management Vandals Take to Sydney Water
Sydney Water this week sent letters to all its staff - from senior managers down - offering them voluntary redundancy - in a move that could further demoralise the organisation..
[ Full Story » ]

Boston Fiddles While Teachers Burn
Teachers have accused the head of the Education Department of launching personal attacks on critics while ignoring physical assaults on school staff.
[ Full Story » ]

Lundy to Star in Workers Online Net Night
Workers Online is co-hosting a live chat with Kate Lundy, Labor’s federal spokeswoman for information technology on Tuesday August 10.
[ Full Story » ]

STOP PRESS - Firefighters Seek End To Safety Apartheid
More than one thousand fire fighters left their helmets outside State Parliament Sunday, refusing to respond to emergency calls until the Government agrees to end a two-tiered benefit structure for workers who are killed or injured.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Snag’s Filmsy Evidence

  • Amnesty Acts on Timor

  • Cash in Transit

  • Second Wave Action Hits North Vic

  • Compo: Tips from the Dark Side

  • Editorial

    Compensating for the Future

    The problems facing the state's workers compensation scheme present a fundamental challenge to the trade union movement.

    How do we protect the interests of injured workers while ensuring that a scheme that is floundering under the pressure of an unsustainable deficit doesn't collapse around us?

    Over the past few years the Carr Government, which inherited this problem of the Coalition's making in 1995, has taken a series of steps to right the scheme including cutting access to benefits, reducing lawyer fees and raising premiums. Yet each time the levers has been pulled to improve the bottom line, the impact has not been great.

    The CFMEU are now calling for their own scheme arguing the specific nature of their industry calls for industry-specific measures. Their focus has been on stopping under payment by employers, which is rife in the industry.

    Regardless of whether the underpayment issue is really at the core of the issue, the union is on the right track because it has recognised that a one size fits all approach is flawed.

    The government has already partially recognised this by dividing the scheme into specialist Industry Reference Groups, given responsibility for improving return to work, rehabilitation and accident prevent in their fields.

    Importantly, unions and employers drive these groups, rather than insurers and service providers, making sure they remain people rather than becoming digits on a claim sheet.

    A natural extension would be to fragment the WorkCover monolith into a range of schemes along the IRG lines, setting rules, rights and regulations to match the specific needs of the industry.

    By doing so, the government would engage in what is it's fundamental challenge - handling the shift from an industrial/command economy to a more dispersed information economy. At the end of the day, no one solution will save WorkCover. But lots of little ones might.

    Peter Lewis


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