The Guardian September 12, 2001


Workers' compensation campaign

A campaign against the Carr Government's draconian workers' compensation 
legislation is continuing in one of NSW's major industrial cities, 
Wollongong. On Saturday September 1 the Wollongong Branch of the Communist 
Party of Australia, the Illawarra Branch of the Socialist Alliance and 
local union organiser and Port Kembla Branch Secretary of the ALP, Naomi 
Arrowsmith, held a free sausage sizzle outside MP Mariamme Saliba's office 
in Dapto.

Ms Saliba, the Labor Member for Illawarra, crossed the picket line of 
workers protesting against the changes to workers' comp outside NSW 
Parliament on June 19 and voted for the legislation. The picket was 
brutally attacked by the police so as to allow MPs through.

The sausage sizzle was used to highlight the Carr Government's arrogant 
disregard for the rights of injured workers. The changes to workers' 
compensation include:

* Taking away the right of injured workers to sue the boss for negligence;

* Limiting workers' rights to appeal against assessments of their 
impairments by government-appointed medical specialists;

* Only allowing appeals if they are likely to achieve large increases in 
compensation to be paid to the worker (highly unlikely);

* Permitting decisions to be made without the injured worker presenting an 
argument or even being present;

* Setting the guidelines that will determine the size of compensation 
payments by regulation so that they cannot be altered by Parliament.

Six kilograms of sausages were handed out along with Communist Party 
leaflets explaining the changes to workers' comp. Many people stopped for a 
chat. Over the next two months all local Labor MPs will be targeted. The 
campaign is growing with the local Maritime Unionists Socialist Activities 
Association (MUSAA) joining in.

Wollongong Communist Party Branch Secretary, Leanne Lindsay, told The 
Guardian that there is a need to develop an alternative to the two 
major parties, both of which have attacked the rights of workers. "Right-
wing Labor does not have the interests of workers at heart any more than 
the Liberal Party", Leanne said. 

"This is shown very clearly by these changes to workers' compensation which 
is a vital issue in a city like Wollongong. At the next state election many 
workers will be looking for alternatives to Labor and Liberal  for 
candidates and parties which will stand up for the interests of the working 
class and that are not in the pockets of the bosses."

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