||Issue No. 264||20 May 2005|
Interview: Fortress NSW
Unions: Fashions Afield
Industrial: Pay Dirt
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Big Day Out
International: Making History
Economics: The Fear Factor
Review: The Robots Revolt
Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The Locker Room
Decapitation Witness Dudded
Construction Union secretary, Andrew Ferguson, says injured workers have fewer rights than criminals beaten in gaol.
In February, Daniel Reeves fell three metres onto concrete landing alongside the decapitated body of his workmate. The 28-year old was left with a fractured spine and severe psychological injuries.
Because of the way NSW compensation law is structured, medical specialists cannot combine psychological and physical injuries to determine if a worker meets the 15% incapacitation threshold needed to make a claim for damages.
"I was a hard worker, but since the accident I have been told I will never return to manual work," says Reeves. "I received serious back injuries, as well as the psychological trauma of seeing a workmate killed, but my lawyers have advised me I cannot sue for compensation."
Andrew Ferguson from the CFMEU has slammed the system that "shows complete contempt for injured workers, placing them at the bottom of the scrapheap."
"Someone injured in a car crash, or even a criminal beaten in gaol, would have the right to sue and could receive a larger payout for pain and suffering," says Ferguson. "They could also get their lost wages and medical expenses covered, something Mr reeves is forced to pay himself."
Grant Wakefield is another injured worker who has seen a deposit he had saved for a house whittled away since he was injured at work.
"I'm definitely worse off," says Wakefield. "I'm on half as much pay, and it will be at a standstill for the best part of tenyears."
Wakefield considers himself 'lucky', as he was able to find another job through contacts, but knows that many other workers in a similar predicament simply don't have that option, and that employers are loathe to employ injured workers.
Rita Mallia from the CFMEU is disturbed by the aggressive approach taken by insurers, who are pressuring injured workers; threatening to cut off benefits and putting them on programs akin to Centrelink's 'Dole Diary' system.
"It is three years since the changes to Workers Compensation where the government said that no worker would be worse off," says Rita Mallia from the CFMEU. "That's clearly not the case."
"These people are stuck on a treadmill. There is no justice for these people."
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