Unions NSW has led a delegation of injured workers to the NSW State Parliament as it launches its campaign against the State Government’s proposed cuts to WorkCover NSW.

The demonstration kicks off a combined television, radio, online and billboard advertisement blitz aimed at stopping the State Government from stemming the $4.1 billion deficit the body has accumulated.

Currently, a Parliamentary Inquiry is being held into the proposed changes to the NSW WokCover Scheme, and is due to report back on June 13.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has publically hit out at Coles and Woolworths, saying the supermarket giants are responsible for ‘lethal pressures in the trucking industry and across the entire supply chain’.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has denied recent media reports about aviation safety in, claiming that air travel remains one of the safest forms of travel.

The NSW Minerals Council has announced its annual awards for innovation safety in the mining industry.

A report by Monash University, commissioned by  the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, has criticized moves by the National Transport Commission (NTC)  to remove working hour caps for NSW train drivers.

Winners of the 7th annual Safe Work Australia Awards have been announced, selected from 37 finalists.

The High Court has ruled that seven former directors of James Hardie misled the Australian Stock Exchange about the company’s ability to fund compensation claims from asbestos victims.

Better protections for workers exercising their rights, a more balanced bargaining system and a range of improvements to economic and workplace conditions to help deliver secure jobs are all at the heart of a dynamic agenda for Australian unions leading into the ACTU Congress.

The ACTU has outlined its vision to create a better future for Australian workers with secure jobs and a stronger, more equitable economy, to be endorsed at the 2012 Congress.

Almost 1000 delegates representing workers from every industry and sector in Australia will attend the ACTU Congress at the Sydney Convention Centre from 15-17 May. ACTU President Ged Kearney said the triennial Congress – often referred to as a “Workers’ Parliament - was the largest and most important gathering of Australian unions.

“We will put forward solutions to counter this employer militancy, through better bargaining powers for workers and stronger representation rights, including a Charter of Delegates’ Rights,” Ms Kearney said.

“But we also have a growing number of workers engaged in insecure work who are often powerless against hostile employers who put profits before workers.

“In response, unions will call on the Government to strengthen the rights for employees in insecure work, and to improve their conditions of employment.

“Improvements need to be made to allow workers to bargain for job security, and to prevent big employers from holding the economy to ransom through their refusal to bargain in good faith,” she said.

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The Victorian Government has announced a major cut to WorkCover premiums, cutting them by three per cent from the beginning of July.

WorkSafe Victoria has announced a rural blitz of Victoria, with a particular interest in the Ballarat area.

John Holland has been fined the maximum of $242,000 after a worker fell to their death at BHP Biliton’s Mt Whaleback mine 2 years ago.

A research paper published by the NSW Minerals Council has found that addressing growing mental illness issues is a crucial priority for the sector.

Prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health and early death in workers.

Unions are calling for a National Asbestos Authority to manage the mandatory removal of the deadly chemical from all Australian buildings by 2030.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said Australia has the world’s highest per capita rate of asbestos-related deaths, with up to 18,000 more Australians expected to have died from mesothelioma by 2020.

“This is an abysmal reality that we must change. That is why unions want Australia’s built environment to be asbestos-free by 2030 and we are calling for a stand-alone National Asbestos Authority to make it happen,” she said.

Ms Kearney said to achieve an asbestos-free Australia, there must be a national audit of all asbestos containing material, starting with government buildings and dump sites.

“The Government must initiate a prioritised removal program, to be carried out only by licensed removalists,” she said.

Ms Kearney said unions also reiterated their call for a home audit scheme, which would require home owners to have their houses checked by a registered practitioner prior to selling or leasing out their property.

There was also a need for a co-ordinated education and awareness campaign so that home owners and home renovators are aware of not only the dangers of asbestos contamination, but of how to have it safely removed.

In Australia, the workplace related death toll is estimated to be more than 4.7 times higher than the Australian road toll.  In 2008 there were 1464 road deaths, while Government statistics show there are up to 7000 work related deaths each year.  

The New South Wales Government has released an issues paper and announced a parliamentary committee as the next steps to reforming WorkCover NSW.

The OHS Body of Knowledge has been launched at the recent SIA National Convention, Safety in Action. The OHS Body of Knowledge describes the core knowledge expected of OHS professionals, and provides a basis for accrediting OHS graduate and post graduate courses (not VET courses such as OHS Certificate III or IV).

Greg Tweedly, CEO of WorkSafe Victoria explained that “The accreditation process will play a significant role in both raising the standard of professional OHS advice and giving employers great confidence when engaging OHS expertise.”

Resent research published in the Science Translational Medicine journal suggest that shift-workers are significantly more likely to develop diabetes and other weight problems thanks to glucose imbalances as a result of sleep disturbances.

The Australian Workers' Union will be sending their National OHS Director, Dr. Yossi Berger, to Port Macquarie to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the contaminated worksite at the Pacific Highway upgrade just south of Port Macquarie.

The University of South Australia has published a report that suggests sexual harassment remains a persistent problem in Australian workplaces.

Safe Work Australia has released its December Notified Fatalities Report, providing a national summary of work-related traumatic fatalities that were reported under Australian work health and safety jurisdictions.

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