The Guardian June 2, 1999


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Employer body, the NSW Australian Industry Group (AIG), has withdrawn from 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.

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Acknowledgments: The Metal Worker

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