HSR Newsletter December 2008

There is currently a Bill before parliament. The amendment expands Section 76 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (discrimination) to provide more protection to Health and Safety Representatives and workers who raise health and safety issues.

The Bill proposes:

Individual right of action
In addition to the existing criminal provisions for OHS discrimination, the Bill provides for an individual employee who has allegedly suffered discrimination to apply to the industrial division of the Magistrates Court for a civil remedy.

  • The onus of proof in such cases will be on the defendant (employer)
  • A “substantial reason” test will apply under the new civil arrangements
  • An individual to seek an injunction from the court to restrain proscribed conduct
  • A civil defence is available where the employer’s conduct was reasonable in the circumstances and undertaken to comply with other provisions of the OHS Act or the Accident Compensation Act

The Magistrates Court has powers to make orders including for damages and reinstatement, It can also direct matters to alternative dispute resolution

Removal of prison sentence
The prison penalty for criminal breaches of Section 76 of the OHS Act will be removed, bringing Victoria more into line with other jurisdictions.

Employees of independent contractors
The coverage of the new civil anti-discrimination provisions in the OHS Act will also apply to third–party discrimination against employees of independent contractors

Protection to employees assisting or consulting authorised representatives of registered employee organisations is included.

Regional BBQs
We currently planning to have some regional bbqs over summer and autumn to find out how to use your website (meatiesohs) and help newer computer users get registered and become more confident with finding information. This will hopefully be done in few locations around the state so if anyone has some ideas about locations, suitable times and people who can help promote the event in their area. Tell us what you want. Please contact myself on any of the details below or to Gwynnyth Evans, health & safety officer, at the Union office on 03 9662 3766 or amieuvic@bigpond.com

Fix WorkCover
As some of you may be aware there is an ongoing campaign to make our politicians realise that some of the recommendations made by Peter Hanks QC are not good enough and some are actually bad for workers who have suffered and injury or illness while at work.

The AMIEU and Victorian Trades Hall Council have made submissions and we are lobbying politicians on behalf of union members but we still need everyone to add your voice.

A lot of you have got on board with the campaign already by sending a letter to every politician in government using the fixworkcover website.

There is now another letter to go to the politicians so everyone needs to go to www.fixworkcover.org and follow the “send Letter” link.

The fixworkcover site is also accessible through your www.meatiesohs.org website.

New union website
The AMIEU has recognised that its old website was technically obsolete and too hard to find up to date information so we developed a new website. It has lots of new features and the capacity for many more. None of the old has disappeared, but we can now bring you much more. Using RSS feeds you get new information every day so check it out regularly. Find the Victorian Branch of the union on www.vic.amieu.net

December 2008

Evert Van Der Steeg and Gwynnyth Evans: