Workers protest compo cuts
By Alex Cooper
MELBOURNE — A rally was held to protest the against changes to workers compensation introduced since last November as part of Victorian Trades Hall Council's week of action against the Kennett government.
Protesters were told by Trades Hall secretary John Halfpenny that Kennett was "legalising employer negligence". What took workers 100 years to get had been destroyed overnight, he said.
Kennett has removed the Occupational Health and Safety Commission, restricted the capacity of government investigators to inquire into and prosecute negligent employers, and revoked requirements for employers to provide health and safety information in relevant languages.
The government also plans to restrict the right of health and safety representatives to inspect the workplace and to reduce the employers' obligation to consult them.
It plans to remove any role for unions in protecting members and to revoke health and safety standards on lighting, amenities, lead, forest operations, foundries, trenching, work on roofs, asbestos and more.
Of particular concern is the relaxation of standards relating to asbestos removal. One building site was told last week by the Department of Labor that building workers on the site could remove the asbestos themselves rather than rely on specialist removers.