Members of a range of unions protested outside the RACV club on September 25, where the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) announced its end of year financial and operational results. The protest was called by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), which is concerned about changes to WorkCover proposed in the Hanks review.
Peter Hanks QC was commissioned last December to examine the 1985 Accident Compensation Act (WorkCare), which was transformed into WorkCover in 1992. He has recommended 133 changes, to be incorporated into a new scheme called WorkSafe Victoria.
VTHC secretary Brian Boyd told Green Left Weekly that if all the recommendations were implemented, injured workers would be worse off. "We will not cop the review's recommendations", he said. "We want better benefits for workers and we want quicker resolving of disputes on who can be on WorkCover. Under Hanks this will not happen."
Protesters gave the people attending the VWA function a mock voucher with a ration card for injured workers on one side and a gift voucher for employers to receive a cut in premiums on the other. A VTHC briefing paper estimates that over the last four years cuts to WorkCover premiums have delivered bosses savings of close to $2 billion, while workers netted only $45 million in payments.
The VTHC's "FixWorkCover" campaign calls for an increase in weekly payments, coverage of all stress injuries, improved disputes resolution and better return-to-work rights, an end to discrimination and the inclusion of outworkers in the compensations scheme. For more information, visit <http://www.fixworkcover.org>.