Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
 
 
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Work Cover: your rights restored

In 2013 the Newman Government removed some very significant rights from all workers in respect of your treatment if you were injured at work or travelling to or from work. This included the following:

A 5% total disability threshold imposed for those wishing to make a common law claim.
Prospective employer being entitled to ask you for your history in terms of any medical condition you suffer from or have suffered from; or any injury that you have suffered in the past or suffer from now.
Employers could request your claims history directly from WorkCover and this will include any common law claims that you have made.

The unfair changes rammed through by the LNP Government in 2013 removed the legal rights to up to 60% of those who could seek recompense for injuries sustained by accidents at work.

The 5% threshold before a common law claim could be instigated may not seem a lot but this threshold includes injuries that could prevent continuation of employment for bus drivers and many railworkers including traincrew, infrastructure workers, trades people and people in predominantly sedentary roles.

I am pleased to say that yesterday the ALP State Government introduced into Parliament legislation which will remove these provisions from the Act, thus returning rights and protections stolen from you by the previous LNP Government.

You should note that the benefits and protections that the LNP Government removed in 2013 ignored the relevant Parliamentary Committee’s, which had a majority of LNP members on it, recommendation that the fund was working fine and should not be touched.

In other words, this was nothing more than an ideological decision by that Government to remove your rights.

WorkCover in Queensland is one of the best performing workers’ compensation systems in Australia and even with the return of your conditions which naturally will increase its expenditure; there is no need for any increase to employers in respect of their contributions.
This was one of the main issues that the RTBU and other unions campaigned for and received commitments for from the now ALP Government prior to the election.

This legislation will be retrospective to the date of the last election (31 January, 2015) and there is also proposed to be a creation of a fund that may provide some compensation to those affected by the LNP Government’s withdrawal of rights for the period up to the new legislation coming into force.

No doubt there will be the obligatory opposition to this legislation by the LNP, but my understanding is that these amendments have a high likelihood of success and I will ensure members are advised of the outcome in due course.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
RTBU State Secretary,
Queensland Branch