Union covers journeys to work

UNITED Services Union (USU) members will be covered for injuries and accidents from journeys to and from work following the executive’s decision to take out insurance for all its members.

The move follows the O’Farrell government’s decision in June to scrap WorkCover journey claims as part of a raft of changes to the scheme.

The plight of Cargo Road car accident victim James Cantrill highlighted the human cost of the decision, when he and his family were left with no compensation or financial assistance for his life-changing injuries following his car accident in August.

USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said the 33,500 members across the state and 2500 in the central west, including workers in the local government, clerical, administrative, energy, airline and utility industries, will be covered for journeys to and from work.

“Had [Mr Cantrill] been a member of the USU he would’ve had the comfort of knowing that he would’ve been protected with a weekly income that would have sustained him and his family,” he said.

“It’s the very time when people need assistance, when they’re sick and injured.”

Mr Kelly believes other unions will follow suit and take out insurance for their members.

He denied the move to take out insurance would see the government ignore the protests.

“The government doesn’t protect workers, they don’t have the moral obligation, but the unions do,” he said.

“It’s making trade unions very much more relevant.”

Mr Kelly said the government did not consult with the public before the election and tell them journey claims would be axed.

“It’s our duty to protect our workers left vulnerable to accident and injury to and from work,” he said.

“You wouldn’t be in that predicament if you weren’t on your way to work.”

Members of the union are covered for up to $1500 per week for 104 weeks for injuries sustained on journeys to and from work.

Mr Kelly said member numbers had swelled since the insurance was introduced and union fees would not be increased to cover the cost.

“We’ll review the insurance after 12 months, where we can fund any member disadvantaged by the threshold we’ll review that premium,” he said.

He said the O’Farrell government’s decision to slash WorkCover had seen 500 new activists register to help the union campaign against the government.

Mr Kelly rejected the government’s argument the WorkCover changes were needed to recover a budget blowout.

“We saw recently that the treasurey department got the financial forecast wrong to the tune of $1 billion,” he said.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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