The Guardian April 12, 2000

Workers' compensation brutality

The following story was contributed by a young worker who was injured 
not long after joining the workforce. He tells of his experiences as an 
injured worker which, unfortunately, are far too common.

I feel as if I have been abused since my injury first happened in 1999. I 
have put in a complaint to the Union of harassment and defamation of 

The harassment has increased and no document that the company said would be 
given to me were received (i.e. my return to work program).

I have asked the Human Resource Manager and the First Aid Officer on 
several occasions, but nothing has been done, it still hasn't been handed 
to me.

My medical information was released to workers, in which the company told 
people that I was faking my injury. People at work started to snob me off 
and the rumour was spread across the factory.

People in certain areas around the factory have been told to keep an eye on 
me. So if I leave my area it is reported to them and I am warned (even to 
get a drink or go to the toilet). Making me feel like I am in jail.

I have been abused and harassed by the Human Resource Manager and others in 
the company. Such events have occurred like:

1. Told by the Human Resource Manager I am absolutely fucking useless, in 
his office.

2. Sworn at by the First Aid Officer, (i.e. what the fuck are you doing in 
here?) all I do is cause shit and create trouble.

3. Told by Human Resource Manager that Workcover weren't going to pay me 
for leaving work to go to the doctor's. I haven't been paid.

I had to call Workcover myself to find out that they were meant to [pay 
me]. I called the Union and they informed me that I should be getting paid 
for it. I then told the Human Resource Manager, he then replied that I 

4. My doctor informed both company representatives that light duties were 
to be performed. I was made to work regular duties (i.e. machining, 
carrying boxes and pushing loaded trolleys).

They were also informed that no repetitive work with my left arm was to be 
done; yet I am made to cut rubbers for eight hours a day, which is 

5. I was told to machine even whilst using Panadine Forte/Coldalgin, even 
after showing the first Aid Officer the pill packet [with warnings about 
using machinery].

I had told them that I was using that medication, but they never ever took 
note of it. They finally did after the letter the union sent.

6. I was told by the First Aid Officer that it was a lame excuse, but at 
least I didn't have to machine. (Tuesday 29/2/00)

7. Whilst cutting rubbers, the First Aid Officer went up to a Manager, 
telling him that I was wandering away from my work area.

The only reason I was, was because the job I was doing involves walking to 
get the containers that need to be filled, resulting in the Manager calling 
my Supervisor and telling me to leave the area.

8. The doctor informed me and the company representatives that I could sit 
down if my shoulder was causing me pain, but I was made to stand at all 

9. I an repetitively checked on by Managers. Both looking for something to 
get me fired. I feel harassed by both. I am the only person that gets 
harassed about smoking. When there are numerous amount of people smoking, 
including staff floor people.

I was outside smoking with one other mate when a Supervisor came out and 
told me to get inside and that I shouldn't be fucking smoking. Both 
Managers have harassed me over the same thing. I have been told by other 
Managers that it is OK to smoke.

10. I am told to work in one area, yet told to go elsewhere by other 
bosses/leading hand resulting in me getting warnings from the person 
telling me in the first place. I feel harassed.

11. Both Managers hide, thinking I can't see them waiting for me to do 
something, so that they can give me a warning. I feel harassed.

12. I am the only person that has to report to my supervisor to go to the 
toilet or to get a drink. I was timed when I went to the toilet on 
Wednesday 1/2/00 by a Manager then threatened that a written warning was 
going to be given to me.

I had been gone for 12 minutes, yet other Managers advised the Senior 
Manager that I was gone for 30 minutes (harassment).

13. Managers abuse my Supervisor for not keeping an eye on me, which makes 
them hate me and makes my life a living hell. I am ready to QUIT!

14. People have been told by the Human Resource Manager and the First Aid 
Officer that if they talk to me or have any communication with me that they 
will receive job warnings (harassment).

My job life is very stressful. I come to work feeling as if I don't want to 
be here. It seems to be a continuing thing. In fact I have been told that 
it happened to another bloke and it's just going to get worse.

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