Rally against changes to workers comp laws

THOUSANDS of people chanted ‘‘Shame, Barry, Shame’’ at a Civic Park rally at lunchtime to oppose proposed changes to workers’ compensation laws.

At least 2000 people took part in the rally, which took place at the same time as a corresponding much larger event in Sydney.

Video by Darren Pateman and Jonathan Carroll

Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy said the state government had no right to take away decades of hard-fought-for rights.

Mr Kennedy said the government wanted to cap payments for injured workers, remove journeys to and from work from the scheme and stop grieving families of workers killed on the job from being compensated.

State secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Tim Ayres challenged the Coalition’s Hunter MPs to stand up for their constituents against the proposed changes.

Mr Ayres said the government claimed the workers’ compensation system had a theoretical shortfall of $4 billion but there were lots of things it could do to improve the system rather than slash workers’ rights.

Newcastle and Central Coast firefighters met yesterday morning to discuss the changes and other matters affecting them, including proposed changes to their death and disability scheme.

A mass union meeting at No. 1 Sporsground was attended by about 1200 people, who marched through Newcastle streets to the Civic Park rally.

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