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LNP Attacking Injured Workers

The LNP Newman Government is continuing its attack on Queensland workers and their families. Removing rights of workers who are injured at work is the latest step in the LNPs continued attack on decency and fairness for working Queenslanders and their families. They have already sacked over 17,000 workers and destroyed the job security of workers in the public sector. They have weakened the independent umpire, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. Under the code-name of contestability the Newman Government wants to privatise huge areas of important services, including the mass outsourcing of health care. It will see a drive to the bottom on wages, services and safety. The LNP has imposed draconian laws to silence workers and their representatives in public debate. The longer the LNP stays in office the more opportunities it has to cut jobs, drive down wages and remove entitlements.

Changes to Workers' Compensation

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk addressing the crowd at the WorkCover Rally outside Parliament House - 17th October 2013

All of us need to make sure people across Queensland are made aware of the fact all LNP Members of Parliament actively supported the unfair and unnecessary changes to the scheme - Annastacia Palaszczuk - Leader of the Opposition

The LNP changes

workcover changes

There are many elements to the Newman Governments attack on Queenslands Workers Compensation scheme. The most serious include: Imposing a 5% impairment threshold on injured workers: This works against injured workers trying to access their legal rights to compensation while benefitting negligent employers. It will mean that people could have a permanent injury that prevents them from returning to work, but not meet the LNPs threshold, and so will not get the care and support they deserve. This will strip about half of the current claims out of the legal system, leaving injured workers worse off, at a time when they are already facing the challenges of dealing with injuries caused by the negligence of their boss. New disclosure requirements: Not only will the LNP make it harder for injured workers to claim for medical costs and loss of income, they are also making it harder for them to get another job. People who apply for job vacancies can be asked to disclose all former injuries or claims, even if they do not relate to the type of work they are applying for. Employers can also apply to access information on existing employees from a claims database, again raising serious privacy and anti-discrimination concerns, especially for older workers. Queensland had built up the best Workers Compensation Scheme in Australia. Queenslands scheme was fair. It was sustainable. The LNP changes risk the ongoing strength of the scheme and tear away rights from injured workers, at what can be the most challenging time for them and their families.

Labor will restore the scheme as a priority upon returning to government - Curtis Pitt MP, Shadow Treasurer
I implore you to think about and act on ways to ensure that Queenslanders dont forget that Campbell Newman and the LNP have stripped rights away from injured workers and have done so without public consultation - Jackie Trad, Labor Member for South Brisbane

Denying injured workers access to thier legal rights is another example of this government disposing the most vulnerable Desley Scott, Labor Member for Woodridge

workcover changes

Labor Amendments:
The Labor Parliamentary team moved significant amendments to try to limit the harm caused to vulnerable workers. These amendments aimed to: - Ensure there was discretion to grant access to the legal system in exceptional circustances, where it would be grossly un just to deny that right. - Introduce a simple appeal process for the statutory decisions involved with WorkCover, so workers had an avenue to raise concerns about fairness and unjust decisions. - Introduce tight restrictions on how employers were allowed to use information about an employees previous injuries, to ensure privacy and anti-discrimination concerns would be addressed.
Ben Swan, Secretary of the AWU Qld Branch with fellow union members at the WorkCover Rally

The LNP used its massive majority to rejected all three amendments, ensuring their legislation was deliberately harsh & cruel to Queensland Workers.

LNP Admit changes hurt Workers

"I am still concerned that there will be some unintended consequences from the five per cent cap" - Michael Crandon MP, chair of the committee reviewing WorkCover No-one wants to see workers getting done over... its a fact of life - Ian Rickuss MP, Member for Lockyer Keep UP The fight
We need all supporters to help spread the word on this important issue. It is clear that the only way to have a fair and decent workers compensation scheme in Queensland is to kick out the LNP and put Labor back in Government. Labor will repeal these vicious laws, so injured workers again have access to their legal rights To help with this campaign and for more info go to http://www.annastaciapalaszczukmp.com.au

QCU President John Battams addressing the WorkCover rally

Who it hurts
Case 1: Customer Vs Worker
Consider a customer in a retail shop, being helped by a retail assistant. Shelving was not installed properly and fell down on both of them, injuring their legs and feet. The customer would rightly so have the right to access the legal system to claim damages for the injury. On the other hand, the retail assistant could suffer a permanent injury to his foot that prevents him from returning to work as a retail assistant, where he is required to stand for long shifts. But under the LNP workers compensation laws he could be assessed as being under the threshold and have no access to the legal system to claim for ongoing medical costs or loss of income. It simply makes no sense and is grossly unfair that a customer and worker could suffer similar injuries, from the same accident, caused by the negligence of the same business and end up with one getting access to the legal system and one being denied it.

workcover changes

Case 2: Process Worker


The injured worker was a 26 year old process worker who sustained injury to his lumbar spine and left lower limb during the course of his employment. He had only ever worked in the area of unskilled and manual labouring and will now suffer significant restrictions in returning to any such work due to his injuries and associated disabilities. He has been unable to obtain other employment since sustaining his injury and is currently struggling to support his young family. He was assessed under WorkCovers permanent impairment assessment as having a 1% work related whole person impairment and conveyed an offer of $2,160.00. Under the LNP changes, because he was assessed to be under its 5% threshold, he would have no right to Common Law damages, meaning he would miss out on claims for ongoing support, medical costs and loss of income.

Case 3: Driller's Offsider


A lease-hand assisting a driller with testing some gas piping hurt her left hand when a faulty cap exploded. Despite wearing approved safety gloves she has been left with an ongoing hand injury. As a consequence of her injury she has ongoing pain in her hand and bruising. She can no longer do the manual component to her job. She now works in an admin role doing data entry. It is unlikely she will be able to return to her pre-accident work as a drillers offsider or eventually as a driller which she had aimed to do. Following medical review by an external medical officer her injury was assessed as a 0% whole of person impairment. This case shows how the measurement imposed by the LNP - of whole of person impairment has very little to do with a persons ability to get back to work. Under the new laws she would not be able to access her legal claim, even though her injury has a direct impact on her not being able to return to her pre-injury work.

They would rather wreck the current scheme than admit that a scheme set up and managed by Labor was both effective and economically responsible Tim Mulherin, Deputy Opposition Leader
The workers of Queensland are united against this bill. Husbands and wives, partners, mums and dads, kids and dependents of workers need to know that when their loved ones leave for work they will return safe and sound at the end of every shift Jo-Ann Miller, Labor Member for Bundamba
It will impact on Queensland workers and their families in very significant and potentially cruel ways... Their bosses will get off scot-free while injured workers and their families will be left trying to pick up the pieces on Centrelink payments and substandard pay packets Bill Byrne, Labor Member for Rockhampton