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Last minute changes to compo bill

IT TOOK almost a week to pass through NSW Parliament and State Government's controversial Workers Reform Bill is set to cause a stir for a whole lot longer.

As of late Thursday night, the WorkCover system in NSW has changed drastically.

Workers compensation will be cut back from 100% at 13 weeks rather than 26 and financial support for medical expenses with be reduced and in some cases, cut at 12 months.

Premier Barry O'Farrell has maintained the changes are necessary to prevent business owners from incurring a 28% rise in workers premiums.

When he introduced the bill in parliament on Tuesday, Mr O'Farrell said only police would be quarantined.

But a massive union protest out the front of Parliament House on Thursday which saw every fire-fighter in Sydney walk off the job, changed things for emergency service workers.

A last minute amendment moved by Greens MP David Shoebridge secured an exemption for other emergency service workers including paramedic and fire-fighters.

Nurses and bus drivers who took part in Thursday's march have not been offered the same protection.

Fire Union Secretary Jim Casey said it was a shame it took state-wide industrial action to twist the arm of politicians.

"Our members put their lives on the line every day," Mr Casey said

"They run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out.

"We took yesterday's action with a heavy heart and only after the NSW Government refused to negotiate with us in any meaningful way.

Mr Casey said the Fire Union would join the Labor movement in its ongoing campaign to "defend sick and injured workers".

BILL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Calculation of weekly compensation payments will be based on worker's pre-injury average with maximum of $1838
  • No weekly compensation will be payable after five years - workers with more than 20% impairment exempt
  • Payment of injured workers expenses for medical, hospital and rehabilitation treatment will be cut at 12 months
  • No compensation will be payable for heart attacks, strokes and their underlying diseases

Topics:  emergency services


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