News

Stripping working rights joins many other cruel cuts

At least 60% of Queensland’s workers injured in unsafe workplaces are continuing to be denied basic legal rights to compensation, one year after the Newman Government forced through unnecessary changes to the State’s workers’ compensation scheme.

The stripping of rights for Queensland workers injured in unsafe workplaces, combined with laws restricting the right of access for unions over workplace health and safety issues, are potentially the most serious of many adverse changes made to employment rights by the Newman Government.

Such changes made during late night sittings of Parliament have become a concerning hallmark of the Newman government.

The impact of state and federal LNP government policy agendas on the working conditions of Queenslanders has been far reaching and has in many cases further marginalised those that were already at risk.

On WorkCover’s own figures up to 60% of Queensland’s injured workers are now unable to pursue unsafe employers because of these changes.

For some Queensland families, it can mean slipping below the poverty line.

WorkCover’s recent Annual Report shows Queensland already had a scheme that was financially strong, with common law claims remaining stable and the cost of a common law payout again falling below WorkCover’s own targets.

But 2014 will be different to previous years. Now many workers will be unable to exercise their legal rights – workers who have legitimate and serious injuries that have left them unable to work or provide for their families can no longer access compensation.

Restoring the employment rights of workers – including workers’ compensation – has been a major focus of the Stand for Queensland campaign.

Recently, a QCU Congress of community and union representatives resolved to question state election candidates about where they stand on restoring workers’ compensation and protecting Queensland families facing destitution.

Many other basic employment rights were developed at the Congress. The hundreds of participants resolved to stand for:

  • Safe and healthy workplaces where all steps are taken to prevent deaths and injuries in the workplace through a systematic, proactive and comprehensive risk management process.
  • A fair and accessible workers’ compensation scheme.
  • Workplace democracy where workers have the right to express their views to their employer and participate in making significant decisions.
  • Fair and balanced industrial collective bargaining.
  • Protection of the right of workers to access a union and for unions to access employees.
  • Adequate, pro-active support for those who are not in employment
  • Protection of union representatives and the collective rights of union members.

Stand for Queensland campaign delegations will visit election candidates and parties and ask, among other issues, if they will:

  • Initiate a process to develop a new state Industrial Relations Act to restore workers’ rights.
  • Provide for effective representation of workers by unions.
  • Restore specific Workers’ Compensation rights.
  • Restore the specific rights and entitlements of employees that had removed by the award modernisation process.
  • Restore the rights of workers to access union advocacy lost under legislative changes.
  • Restore rights for apprentices and trainees.
  • Abolish specialist enforcement agencies such as the ABCC and its state equivalent.
  • Support the retention rates of pay for weekends and unsociable and additional hours of work.
  • Reduce the state’s unemployment rate, now at decade-high levels.

Candidates who want the support of Queenslanders must listen and act on these policies.

While the Newman government’s unfair changes to workers’ compensation continue to impact on Queensland families, there are many other employment rights to be protected or restored.

The Stand for Queensland campaign aims to work with unions, workers and community groups to map out a positive direction for this state and its future.

Get involved to fight for your employment rights and a better future for you and your family.

www.standforqld.com.au/join

Workers and community supporters voice their concerns about unfair cuts to workers’ compensation.

wcover changes protest

 Workers and community members come together in the Attorney-General’s electorate of Kawana to rally against unfair workers’ compensation law changes.