Govt 'shifting liability from business' with WorkCover cuts
25/05/2012 - The NSW government's proposed cuts to workers' compensation is an attempt to push costs from the private sector to the public health and welfare system, a union argues.
Removing cover for workers injured or killed while travelling for work, increasing the rate of physical impairment needed to make a damages claim and a two-year limit on compensation payouts are on the table.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) opposes all propositions and 15 members who have been injured at work will on Friday attend a parliamentary inquiry into WorkCover to argue the union's case.
CFMEU President Rita Mallia told reporters the proposals were an exercise in accounting and the government was trying to shift liability away from business.
"I think it's the government trying to put it on to Medicare, social security, away from employers," she said.
"Basically what the government's seeming to do is get rid of benefits, make it cheaper for employers but at the same time shifting the responsibility to the public health system."
Moving costs associated with WorkCover to Medicare would also shift the funding responsibility from state to federal government.
The responsibility to provide cover for workers should rest with businesses, Mallia said.
"People are going to work and they're contributing to the prosperity of their employers," she said.
"If they're injured in that process then there should be insurance that covers them."
UnionsNSW will also front the inquiry on Friday.
It says the government is exaggerating the financial difficulties facing WorkCover to create a sense of crisis to justify cutting benefits.
UnionsNSW Secretary Mark Lennon accused the government of exaggerating the scheme's troubles, disputing claims WorkCover is struggling with $4.1 billion deficit.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said that unless the deficit is reined in, premiums will skyrocket by 28 per cent, costing jobs and hurting the state's economy.
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