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    Injured South Australians Win Fight on Medical Panels
    Today 27/6/11 the Supreme Court found that WorkCover's Medical Panels do not have the power to be the ultimate decision maker when it comes to determining issues around an injured worker's capacity and questions about their injury.

    This is an important win for injured workers and vindicates South Australian Unions three year campaign about the State government's 2008 amendments to the WorkCover Legislation.  Unions have argued that the Medical Panels are secretive kangaroo courts, at which injured people have no right to take advocates with them for support and advice, and no right of appeal. 

    These Medical Panels cost more than $9m a year and the Supreme Court has now found that their opinions are not binding on the courts.  Anyone can be injured at work and find themselves in the middle of the WorkCover nightmare where they currently have no rights to representation and no rights to appeal.  South Australians union now call on the new Minister for Workers Rehabilitation, Jack Snelling to act on this decision immediately... media release 27/6/11

    WorkCover : Cossey Review
    Bill Cossey AM and Chris Latham, were appointed to undertake the review of Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation (Scheme Review) Amendment Act 2008 (the Amendment Act). On Thursday 23 June 2011 the Minister for Industrial Relations tabled the report in Parliament. The report maybe accessed by the following link: ... click here

    Review of the Impact of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation (Scheme Review) Amendment Act 2008 - SA Unions Submission
    In 2008, the Rann Labor Government justified significant changes to the WorkCover Compensation system on the grounds that the scheme was in financial difficulty.  His Government ripped away entitlements to injured workers with a promise to reduce premiums to employers.

    Two years on it is clear that the changes have had a significant toll on the lives, income and sanity of those who are injured at work.  In reality the very people the system is designed to assist have paid a high price for a reduction in the cost of the scheme for employers.

    The SA Unions Submission outlines evidence that the State Government's reckless social experiment played out on the most vulnerable workers in our community has failed.

    • The return to work rate in SA is worse than any other state in Australia.

    • Injured workers are treated appallingly by WorkCover's agent which is focussed on closing files rather than getting workers better and back to work.

    • The rehabilitation system is broken and urgently needs fixing.

    • Unaccountable Medical Panels make unilateral, final binding decisions that determine the future of worker's lives and cut them off from all support.

    • Economic stress and threats to their income are used as blunt instruments to deny injured workers the right to dispute decisions and pressure workers to work while they are injured.

      Full submission available here.......

    Rann Government Treating Injured Workers Like Bikie Gangs
    The Full Bench of the Supreme Court will today 8/12/10 be hearing a case which challenges WorkCover for taking away the legal rights of injured workers.  Under the Rann government's changes if you challenge a decision of WorkCover, they take away your benefits.  SA Unions says the Government are in a sense treating injured South Australian workers as if they are members of bikie gangs ... read on 8/12/10

    WorkCover's Dodgy Levy Cut
    the South Australian union movement is calling for the state government to fix the unfair WorkCover levy decision in a full page advertisement 20/5/10 ..>>click here

    The move is a direct response to Business SA's unashamed gloating over WorkCover levy cuts at the expense of injured workers>>.. read on.

    RE-ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF CHANGES TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAW: A SA UNIONS RESEARCH PROJECT - REPORT 2
    On 1st April, 2009 a report was commissioned for SA Unions to present information gathered through face to face interviews with several union officials and lawyers ('Advocates') who represent South Australian workers with WorkCover claims.  The present report is the second report in this series.  The aim of this report is to ascertain how the changes to WorkCover laws have affected workers in South Australia over the last six months, since the last report.

    In summary, Advocates interviewed felt that the new laws are:

    • imposing financial hardship on injured workers through the application of step-downs in weekly compensation payments

    • enabling the termination of weekly payments whenever WorkCover, or its agent, dispute aspects of a worker's claim

    • disenfranchising many workers whose injuries result in permanent impairment from eligibility for Non-Economic Loss (NEL) payments

    • placing increased pressure on workers to take redemption payments to finalise their claims

    • undermining the fairness of the scheme through the introduction of Medical Panels that deny injured workers the right to representation.

    • for more information and full report >>.. click here

    WORKCOVER LEVY SCANDAL
    SA Unions is demanding the state government intervene to protect injured workers' compensation entitlements from being gouged by employers.

    The WorkCover Board having decided to reduce the employer levy contribution to the fund effectively means injured workers will pay for a financial windfall for employers.  This is a scandalous decision by a Board which is clearly willing to compromise the welfare of injured workers for the financial benefit of business.

    SA Unions specifically calls on the ALP to implement the WorkCover policy commitment it made at is last state convention, to reinstate fairness into the scheme >>.. read on

    WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWS - REPORT 1
    SA Unions has chosen to release a report commissioned from the University of South Australia which is the first collection of issues and impacts of the laws on injured workers on the day (1 April) that almost 3,000 workers are facing 100% loss of income through the changes to the workers compensation laws. >>.. read on

    Key findings of the report show:

    • workers choices are reduced when faced with a WorkCover claim

    • extreme anxiety about the new medical panels which do not allow workers to be represented or to question the decision of the panel

    • considerable financial hardship for injured workers

    • an increase in the number of pre-emptive payouts often to the financial and emotional detriment of workers

    • less time and less adequate rehabilitation and training

    • significant amount of severe emotional stress and possible suicides

    • >>.. full report

    MIKE RANN - SHARE THE PAIN
    SA Unions calls on Premier Ran to address the unfunded liability, not by continuing to attack injured workers but by sharing the pain and demanding an immediate increase in employers levies. >> ..read on

    WORKCOVER FIASCO EXPOSES IMMORAL, IRRESPONSIBLE POLICY - WITH $1BILLION UNFUNDED LIABILITIES
    The South Australian government has been shamed by the failure of its changes to the WorkCover laws, which attacked workers' rights, to halt the Corporation's financial woes.  With its unfunded liabilities topping $1Billion the government stands condemned by its short sightedness, heartlessness, and political pig headedness > read on.

    NOW INDEPENDENTS AND GREENS COME TO DEFEND WORKERS RIGHTS
    SA Unions congratulates all the independents and minor party members in the Upper House for staunchly defending the rights of injured workers in the Legislative Council > read on.

    RANK AND FILE WORKERS DELIVER MESSAGE TO PREMIER
    Over 40 rank and file members from unions representing over 140,000 workers in South Australia met at Old Parliament House and unanimously passed the following motion and delivered it to Mike Rann's office > read on.

    Motion

    Delegates and members of all unions in South Australia urge the Premier to reconsider the current Bill before Parliament which amends the Workers Rehabilitation & Compensation Act.

    In particular we are concerned that :

    • The step down in wages after 13 and 26 weeks will unfairly impact on the lowest paid workers leaving them to live on a wage below the minimum wage.
    • The 130 week work capacity review ill mean most workers will be kicked off WorkCover payments without any demonstration that there has been a genuine attempt to employ them or provide them with re-training.
    • The use of medical panels as outlined in the Bill is more extreme than in any other state.  If they are to be used then, as in Victoria, they need to be a voluntary part of the system, attached to the conciliation progress with agreement of the parties as a mechanism to resolve medical issues.
    • The suspension of pay of workers who wish to dispute decisions in the Tribunal is not a significant saving to the scheme is unjust and should be removed.
    • Access to common law is necessary if there is an end point in entitlements.  This is in line with every other state in the country.
    • There is likely to be a reduction in payments to workers for loss of body function and capacity.
    • There is a lack of focus on employers and their obligations to make workplaces safer and treat their injured workers fairly.  Instead the Bill will continue to be a situation where SA has one of the lowest levy caps in Australia and a levy reduction will provide a bonus for employers at the expense of workers' entitlements.

    We call on Mike Rann to urgently establish genuine negotiations with the representatives of working people in South Australia to develop proposals which will address the financial issues facing WorkCover in a way that minimises the impact on injured workers.

    MAY DAY MARCH - SAVE WORKCOVER
    This year 1,000's marched march to tell Mike Rann to stop attacking the rights of injured workers.

    Nobody asks to be injured at work - if you're hurt at work, how would you pay the mortgage, the bills and look after the kids?

    In a crisis WorkCover is there to support your family.  But right now, Mr Rann is planning to slash your safety net and save business money instead.  So you will have to struggle on less while companies get a bonus.  And this is a Labor Government?

    Join SA Unions in its fight
    to -

    • keep a fair workers compensation system in SA

    • get workers back to work safely and fairly

    • improve the finances of the scheme

    • get an improved scheme that gets more people back to work safely and fairly

    • get safe workplaces where injuries are prevented

    Join the campaign to save WorkCover - visit the Save WorkCover Now website
    or contact SA Unions phone : 8279 222 or email : saunions@saunions.org.au

    Download a petition to help save WorkCover
    Fact Sheet

    Facts

    Mike Rann has put a law into Parliament that attacks the rights and cuts the pay of injured workers.  At the same time he wants to reduce the costs for employers.

    The law will mean that -

    • Injured workers will have to live on 80% of their wage after only 13 weeks
    • Most workers will be kicked off the scheme with no pay from WorkCover after 2 and a half years
    • Injured workers will have their pay suspended if they dispute a decision about their claim
    • The amount injured workers receive for loss of a limb or body function will be less and always at the discretion of the WorkCover Board.

    What can you do

    Visit the Save WorkCover Website

    join the blog and voice your opinion
    tell the Premier you don't support cuts to injured workers
    become a v
    olunteer
    distribute flyer on the Campaign (page 1) (page 2)

    Media Releases

    Radio Ads

    SA Unions has begun its public campaign in defence of WorkCover, with the launch of radio advertising in Adelaide.

    Reports

       



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