Updates on Creating a Workers’ Advocacy Group By Rod Draper

As we have come to the halfway mark in this series of articles on injury etc, it may be prudent to point out that the author tried to set up an advocacy group for injured workers to access free, unbiased information and help to navigate the injury industry. To facilitate this, an organisation was set up, and incorporated (needed to accept donations and apply for funding grants).

That is where it stopped, after being in application with Fair Trading Qld, for two months while the law was changed to force any corporatisation application with anything to do with industry, workers etc, to be presented to all 30 of the registered Qld trade unions for first refusal. Given the nature of union stranglehold on Enterprise Bargaining Agreements and workers’ rights, that is where it stopped, because we all know that at least some of the more militant unions would be loath to give away even a little power to an independent not for profit. We are looking for another way, so here’s hoping!

One may ask, so what? The unions protect the worker, don’t they?

Well, the answer to that is yes and no. Some unions are purely in the game to feather their own nest. Recently during EBA negotiations for a large organisation, the unions involved wanted to include a clause making voluntary super contributions compulsory outside of the already circa 10.5% mandated by federal law. They wanted the worker to put in another 5% of their pay which went to the union-owned super companies, and eventually feed through to the labour party in donations. That money belongs to the worker, they are forgoing wage increases by having that money “saved” for them -that’s a potential $15.50 in every hundred you earn.

Then there’s the story of an injured worker once told me of the union rep putting the hat around to help him out after an accident injured his back, (while he waited for the workover claim to be accepted) only to find that when they had raised over $7000, the rep put it in his own pocket.

Another example of union (non-worker-focused) overreach is Workcover Qld. (WCQ) Employers have to pay into WorkCover insurance supposedly to assist workers when they are injured at work. WCQ is a registered private corporation wholly owned by the QLD state government. Who runs it? Until recently all of the board and high executive of WCQ were current or prior union executive office holders, it remains heavily engorged of worker union representations- see for yourself:

https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/resources/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2021-2022

Employers pay large amounts of funds into this organisation to cover one thing: worker injury. What are the profits then; in 2021 WCQ received $1.626 Billion in premiums, after operating costs, payouts, taxes, expenses etc, $107.8 million in “total comprehensive revenue”. So, where did that go? Certainly not in premiums refunds or staff wages, they are paid a pittance (relevant to industry standards) SEE for yourself:

https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/102538/Consolidated-financial-statements.pdf

Maybe it went to the Compulsory Covid Clean-up, or maybe to the polies’ pay rises?

Rod Draper

Rod has an extensive background in construction with a degree in economics. And for the last 6 years he has worked as a rehab counsellor with a Masters in Rehab counselling.

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