Manufacturing employers will be hit with industrial claims for top-up insurance if injured workers’ entitlements are slashed as expected in the NSW Government’s workers comp shake-up, warns the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
The AMWU has written to Premier O’Farrell and employer representatives to inform them it will claim the top-up insurance during enterprise bargaining negotiations.
“Manufacturing is the most dangerous industry in NSW by far, generating the highest number of serious workplace injuries. We had a tragic fatality at a heavy engineering site in Western Sydney just yesterday,” said AMWU NSW Secretary Tim Ayres.
“Any changes to the workers compensation scheme that cuts entitlements to injured workers and bereaved families will disproportionately affect manufacturing workers.
“Premier O’Farrell and the employer lobby are on notice that if they buddy up to slash the entitlements of injured manufacturing workers, we will take them on.”
Manufacturing in NSW accounts for about 10% of the workforce but 16% of all major workplace injures and 20% of the cost of the Workers Compensation Scheme. Over the past two decades manufacturing has consistently represented the largest portion of total payments for injury and disease.
The risks manufacturing workers are exposed to include catastrophic injury from working with heavy machinery, exposure to chemicals and repetitive strain injuries.
“Employers complain their premiums are higher than in other states. That’s because workers in NSW are getting seriously injured more regularly than in other states,” said Mr Ayres.
“If NSW employers want to bring their premiums down, they should focus on providing safer workplaces where workers don’t get injured and killed.”
The AMWU is in consultation with an insurance company to develop an appropriate product to cover any entitlement shortfall for manufacturing workers.
The AMWU has enterprise agreements with around 500 manufacturing businesses in NSW and will include the claim for top-up insurance as these agreements come up for renegotiation, if current entitlements to injured workers are reduced as expected.
Mr Ayres will appear before the NSW Legislative Council’s hearing into the NSW Workers Compensation scheme at 2pm, to address the issue of top-up pay and the AMWU’s submission to the Workers Compensation Inquiry.