||Issue No. 356||21 December 2006|
Interview: The Terminator
Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Unions: Breaking News
History: Seven Deadly Sins
Economics: Back to the Future
Politics: Organising and Organisations
International: Web Retrospective
Review: Shock Therapy
Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery
New Thinking to Transport Sydney
Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info
Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign
Vanstone Opens New Meat Market
All the Best
Labor Council of NSW
Holland Goes Dutch on Safety
Despite a dubious safety record, John Holland completed the formalities when the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Council brushed CFMEU calls for affected workers to be consulted.
National secretary, Dave Noonan, says the Comcare option is a "Trojan horse" that will lower safety standards across Australia.
"Comcare employs 32 safety inspectors nationwide. NSW Workcover, alone, has 310 inspectors, that tells you something about the different approaches.
"This is deregulation gone mad and, unfortunately, Australian families are likely to pay the ultimate price.
"Construction can be a dangerous industry and WA is booming at the moment. Comcare doesn't have a single health and safety inspector in the state. It covers Western Australia from Adelaide, thousands of kilometres away from areas like the Pilbara.
"This is part of a federal government move to lowest common denominator health and safety which is consistent with their approach to wages and conditions.
"The ultimate aim to put financial pressure on state systems so they reduce benefits for injured workers."
The amount payable to a paraplegic, for example, is around 30-40% less under Comcare than under Victoria's workers' compensation system.
Someone who loses a thumb and forefinger in a workplace accident, gets compensation of $66,000 under Comcare, against $114,00 in NSW and around $107,000 under the Victorian system.
Workers Online is aware of at least two serious injuries on John Holland building sites in recent months. A Newcastle worker lost an arm and a Western Australian suffered serious facial injuries.
Under state law, building sites are subject to regular health and safety inspections by WorkCover officials and building unions are entitled to do their own inspections if they have safety concerns.
Workcover officials regularly write out prohibition and improvement notices in a bid to prevent accidents happening.
Comcare, established to monitor conditions on white collar, public service jobs, is far less proactive.
Nationally, the move will allow John Holland to lock more than a thousand building industry-trained health and safety experts off its sites.
Significantly, from March next year, Comcare-based companies will be able to block all union entry on health and safety grounds, under federal industrial laws.
Other large companies that have won federal government support to pull out of state OH&S systems include National Australia Bank, Linfox and Optus.
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