Employers rat on compo
The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) is gearing up in NSW for a fight to restore make-up pay after employers ratted on a 25-year agreement. Employer body, the NSW Australian Industry Group (AIG), has withdrawn from a deal which guarantees normal rates of pay for injured employees on workers' comp. Under the make-up pay agreement, employers made up the difference between the award rate of compensation pay (paid by the insurance company) and the actual take-home rate the worker was receiving before being injured. Now that employers have abandoned the agreement injured workers could lose between $100-$300 per week. However, NSW AMWU Secretary Paul Bastian vowed the union would not stand by and see injured workers and their families kicked in the teeth by greedy employers. "Bosses tried the same tactic in Victoria and the AMWU beat them. We will beat them here in NSW as well", Mr Bastian said. "These employees are off work because they were hurt at their employers' workplace — we will not let the boss pocket the make-up pay while workers and their families suffer on reduced incomes." In Victoria, after the AIG tried the same tactic, it took several months of campaigning and on-the-job activity, but the union won make-up pay for a minimum of 39 weeks. They also won an industry-wide award variation. The union says that workers can no longer rely on an industry agreement to cover make-up pay because, as has happened in the NSW instance, the employers cannot be trusted to stick to a deal. Employers may tell workers they are happy to keep paying make-up pay or are prepared to have an enterprise deal. However, this isn't good enough because make-up pay will be on the bargaining table again whenever the employer feels like it. "Some employers treat this issue as if they are doing workers a favour by paying them proper wages when they are injured at the workplace", Mr Bastian pointed out. "We have to ensure make-up pay is a non-negotiable, fundamental condition of members' employment. An award variation gives us the best chance to guarantee this right and will ensure that make-up pay is off the bargaining table forever." The AMWU is currently consulting delegates about a campaign for 52 weeks of guaranteed make-up pay.
* * *Acknowledgments: The Metal Worker