Workcover StopWork – what now?

Under camouflage of anti-bikie (accepted by the Labor party) and sexual offenders legislation,  Qld Attorney General, Jarrod Blejie, took away workers rights to a safe work environment and took away rights to privacy of their health history and cover.

Extensive changes to Industrial Relations laws are yet to be analysed owing to the complexity of the legislation passed in the dead of night. A few moans from the Labor Party and it was all over. Another defeat for the class (not the school room, kiddies) …  another victory for capitalism.

About 500 union members have rallied at lunch time (while other workers are at work) to protest the LNP government’s Workcover legislation rushed through the Parliament this week .

Kiddies at school could be heard singing the following anthem as their Mum’s and Dad’s (mostly from union office) slumped back to work from the lunchtime stoppage:

Life is Great in the Sunshine State
Every Queensland heart sings a song;
To its table lands, such a shame
We wont be around for long.

And our faith is great in the Sunshine State
For our Queensland future is sold;
From the northern cane to the western plain
Queensland Rail is about to fold

.All the while every mile, there’s a sorry smile
And a golden handshake for the bosses.
For friendship’s great in the Sunshine State,
Unless they sack your mate or lock her out at the gate.

The new laws will introduce a common law claim threshold of a 5% impairment (reportedly eliminating 50% of common law claims) and see workers injury/claim history made available to prospective employers if requested.

Queensland’s Workcover scheme is the second cheapest in the country in terms of cost to employers, the most efficient in terms of return to work for injured employees and returned a $517 million profit to the government last year.

The bipartisan parliamentary committee that reviewed the Workcover scheme recommended that it not be changed as it was best practice and cost-effective.

Why then would the LNP government ignore all of the facts to rush through changes that will see Queensland workers worse off?

And how easily they got away with it with minimal parliamentary response. Unions still reeling from the loss of Labour Day, a defeat of the class at the ballot box, now face the litmus test.

Can they muster sufficient mobilizing power to tackle laws that are worse than WorkChoices ‘cos they take away the notion of being able to sure that they will return home safe from a working day. Business and employers are laughing all the way to the bank, their compo claims have been reduced over nigfht.

Lawyers are upset because common law rights to sue for injury at work have been halved.

Teachers are talking about taking unprotected action over changes to federal education laws that reduce equality across the teaching profession.

Will teachers union officials back their strong talk with action or will they renege at the last moment?

Meanwhile at University union organisers are struggling to get members even interested in a ballot for industrial action on their log of claims.

So what now, people? Well, I’ll have a punt and say that bikies will not take the new laws lying down, they will hand in their colours, go underground and come back fighting after they see their leaders in jail wearing pink jumpsuits. If a cop gets killed, Jarrod Blejie is to blame. Meanwhile on the other side of town John Battams and his accolytes at the QCU are trying to think up a way of stopping the teachers from taking unprotected action against legislated inequality in the class rooms.

Who knows what the sexual offenders legislation is all about?

In Canberra Tony Abbott (Tannous Abboot) is scheming on returning his budget to surplus by selling Australia Post. The post office is returning overseas postcards to the sender in a vain attempt to suck more postage out of us.

Meanwhile, anyone who has a proper job that doesn’t feel alienated or isn’t considering quitting as a form of protest gets the Emma Golburn award for courage in the face of adversity.

Ian Curr
21 October 2013

One thought on “Workcover StopWork – what now?

  1. Sale of Australia Post and its consequences says:

    One option being explored by the incoming federal coalition government is the sale of Medibank but more will be required to put the budget into surplus (the deficit is 2013/14 is running at $18 billion).

    The Plan
    Coalition Treasurer Joe Hockey left scope for future asset sales (of Australia Post) and made it clear that the Coalition’s current plan was to privatise health insurer Medibank Private, a policy first floated by Labor. Medibank will only fetch about $4 billion so do the math, it will take a substantial sale to recoup the $18 billion required. There is a lot of public land to sell but Australia Post will be required to get in the billions required. The sale of Telecom was begun by the Hawke Keating Labor government in the 1980s; first by corporatising in 1983 and then will sale of the first tranche in 1996 at the end of Labor’s 13 year term of government.

    Telecom was originally part of the Post Master General’s Department (PMG) and it too was corporatised by being split away from Telstra when it was privatised.

    Disbelief that sale is possible

    Some may argue that Australia Post can’t be sold because that would mean there can no longer be a crown guarantee of the delivery of the mail – i.e. public ownership has been a cornerstone of security of the mail. However the mail is but a small part of the business at Australia Post with parcel sales bringing in big profits because of the surge of online sales and delivery by mail (anything from groceries to dishwashers and drugs) is already delivered by the private sector and you can be sure these companies would love to get their hands on Australia Post.

    On 1 July 1975, under the Whitlam Labor government, separate government commissions were created to undertake the operational responsibilities of the PMG. One of these was the Australian Postal Commission, trading as Australia Post. Till then the PMG was responsible for telegraph and domestic telephone operations as well as postal mail. Telecom took over these responsibilities, it became the largest government owned enterprise after the Commonwealth Bank.

    It boasted one of the largest unions which brought it into the red by closing down processing of receipts at its office in Barry Parade Fortitude Valley. 13 Data Processing Operators shut themseleves into their office and stopped processing payments. It was the end of the Fraser government. 13 years later the Keating Labor government began privatising Telstra … and the Howard government that followed finished the job.

    And so the only sizeable public owned business remaining from the PMG is Australia Post. And Abbott means to sell it! This is wrong. the reason his party wants to sell Australia Post is that they have no answer to the global crisis of capitalism which began in the financial markets of New York and spread throughout the world. Neither party at the 2013 federal election discussed that aspect of the economy. Selling public assets is not popular however both parties have managed to do so. Bligh lost government in Queensland because she sold Queensland Rail. So her replacement Annastacia Palaszczuk has said that Labor has learnt a lesson and now wishes to focus on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” but people feel insecure in their jobs. And proposed strike actions from teachers and building workers is a reflection of this. Nevertheless it is likely that Abbott will be successful in selling off public assets because workers in Australia have not turned against capitalism in the way workers have in Syria, Greece, Egypt, and so on. Workers in Australia still have jobs, unlike countries in revolt.

    However the difficulties faced by the right in Australia to mobilise public opinion against a sale of assets are considerable. People just won’t buy the spin anymore.

    Attempts by the incoming Coalition government to sell public assets raise questions about the outgoing Labor government.

    Is a defeat of Labour a defeat of the class? What does the election mean for the class on a whole?
    – Loss of the election was related to uncertainty about jobs. Regardless of the failings of labor and its disunity, this feeling of uncertainty contributed to Labor’s defeat

    Will it mean wage cuts or attempts to push productivity? How does this play out in individual workplaces?

    – Loss of workers compensation is the first move against workers since the election, this was camouflaged by the anti-bikie and sexual offenders laws in Queensland.

    – Sale of public assets make workers job security even less certain

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