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  4. » UNIONS CELEBRATE ‘WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY’

UNIONS CELEBRATE ‘WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY’

 MEDIA RELEASE

UNIONS CELEBRATE ‘WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY’

 

‘Workers Memorial Day’is celebrated throughout the international trade union movement by workers, their families and the community to remember not only those who have been killed at work but to fight for the living. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) chooses a theme annually and in 2013 that theme is ‘Mourn the Dead and Fight for the Living’.

Unions NT Secretary Alan Paton stated that this year’s international celebration of ‘Workers Memorial Day’ has been celebrated by Northern Territory unions by recognising 
 

·     how effective their actions have been in securing historic NT workers’ compensation laws in the NT during 2012,

·     the establishment of a National Workers Memorial at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra by the Federal government,

·     recognition of more recent (6) tragic work-related deaths, the costs of those deaths to families, business and the community

·     celebration of the lives of union members lost during the past 12 months and

·     the need to significantly improve and better monitor workplace safety in the NT.

In an address to workers including local union organisers, officials and staff (speech attached), Unions NT Secretary Alan Paton acknowledged the union achievements in the areas of health and safety and workers compensation over the past year and highlighted potential attacks on injured workers benefits over the next 12 months as part of a review of the rehabilitation and Compensation Act being undertaken by the NT Government.

Mr Paton cited Access Economics 2005/6 estimates that work related injury, disease and fatalities cost the nation $34 billion annually. Those figures include 300 work-related deaths and 140,000 recorded injuries annually. Northern Territory industry’s share of those costs in 2010/11 alone was $110 million (with an overall scheme exposure of $335,000,000 for Insurers and self- insurers including all historical claims) which disguises the more accurate costs of NT workplace injury of approximately $190 million annually.

2300 NT workers compensation claims (down 400 from last year) and 6 fatalities may equate to over $100 million in 2010/11 but what needs to be added to those costs are the costs of injuries that go unreported, including the costs for the use of leave for injury that do not result in workers’ compensation claims. These costs include the injuries that are treated by GPs and hospital emergency areas that result in the use of leave, holidays and the fact that up until 2012, 9000 NT ABN workers did not have access to employer funded workers’ compensation insurance premiums or benefits. ‘The real cost of NT work-related injury, disease and fatality is appalling’, said Mr Paton.

‘Of all Australian jurisdictions the NT has by far the worst work-related fatality and injury rates per 100,000 employees according to Safework Australia’s most recent ‘Source: Safework Australia Work- Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2009-2010. The only year where the NT recorded no compensable work-related fatalities was 2002/03. Each and every one of those work-related deaths was preventable.

The Northern Territory recorded 6.4 deaths per 100 000 workers, the highest of all the states and territories. The Northern Territory has recorded the highest fatality rate of all states and territories in all the years of the series except for 2006–07.

Territory union efforts to improve work place safety over the past 12 months have included

·     securing new work health and safety legislation in 2012;

·     over 160 members receiving Certificate IV OHS and Diploma of OHS qualifications;

·     the election and training of additional workplace Health and Safety Representatives;

·     safety presentations to hundreds of NT employers and staff in the public and private sectors

Published: 13 May 2013

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