The O’Farrell Government has threatened further attacks on workers’ rights through workers compensation benefits for those injured at work. Nursing is still a very hands-on, physical job in many areas and nurses are still getting significant injuries so any changes to workers compensation entitlements has implications for all nurses.
Barry O’Farrell says he intends to make significant changes to the NSW Workers Compensation system yet has refused to reveal the exact nature of those changes. Considering his recent attacks on the powers of the Industrial Relations Commission, the increased fines that can be levied against unions and his plans to take away from nurses and teachers the ability to negotiate staffing ratios, it is reasonable to expect that any changes will not be in the best interest of workers.
In a speech to mark his first year as premier of NSW, O’Farrell said he would start his second year with an overhaul of WorkCover. He later denied this meant slashing benefits – “but we’re going to have to look at everything”. A report by accounting company PricewaterhouseCoopers to the Government recommends drastically cutting entitlements for injured workers. Those entitlements are already less than in other states.
Workers compensation entitlements are currently quite restricted so any attempts to cut back can only make the situation worse for those who sustain injuries.
Despite O’Farrell’s assertion that he would be “working closely” with interested parties on this overhaul, considering his huge parliamentary majority it would be no surprise to the NSWNA if a WorkCover bill that did no service to injured nurses was rushed through at the earliest opportunity, without appropriate consultation with employee representatives.
Coming up on April 28 is Workers Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance and action for people killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. This is a good talking point for raising concerns about the threat to workers compensation – with your state MP, on talkback radio and in letters to the paper.
Please get involved! What you can do:
- Contact your state MP to oppose any changes that further disadvantage injured workers
- Keep in touch with developments through your NSWNA branch and our website
- Make your voice heard in the media when this issue comes up
Image credit: Wan Modh via flickr.