How many TRADEtalk readers
have heard stories about honest folks getting screwed out of their compensation
benefits? How many are frustrated that the provincial government, employers and
the WCB are able to get away with it.
Well, youre not alone. Even
the employees of the compensation board have decided enoughs enough.The
Compensation Employees Union has launched the Public Compensation Coalition to
return balance and fairness to injured workers.
The WCB has undergone
massive regulatory and policy changes.
Workers advocates refuse to
call the government body WorkSafeBC or buy into its feeble attempt at
rebranding. Its not about safe, said Business
Agent Bryan Stocking, from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 170.
The frustration begins to show in his voice as he talks about one
62-year-old construction worker who was badly burned while working around
chemicals. He lives in a remote area of the province and has not been able to
find alternative work in his community. He receives just $40/month. Hes
been told to move to a major centre to look for work.
members of the public take little notice of the changes until theyre
injured and become revictimized by the bureaucracy.Tremendous creative energy
is going into developing policies to ensure fewer people receive benefits and
those who are lucky enough to manoeuvre through the minefield will get a lot
less. In 2002, 927 injured workers received loss of earning pensions. In 2006,
just 27 were accepted.
Injured workers and advocates also have numerous
horror stories to relate about the revised appeal process. Amanda Grant,
coordinator of the Public Compensation Coalition, called the compensation
changes death by 1,000 cuts.
The Compensation Employees
Union is also sounding a warning about a new automated claims management
system. Automation oversimplifies the process, Grant said.It has the
potential to be disastrous.
Sandra Wright, president of the
Compensation Employees Union, explained that automation is another step in the
road to privatization and would decrease benefits even more.If you look
at the States [where privatization has taken hold], that system is a
The coalition campaign, which is intended to harness the
energy of other unions, injury advocates, parent groups and small business
owners, will spread across the country.Were not the only
jurisdiction seeing this, said Grant.
Wright said her members care
about injured workers and are upset that theyre having to reject claims
that would have been allowed in the past. Its more harsh now.
As a result, the union is focusing on bringing in legislative change and she
remains optimistic that its not too late.We can turn some of it
around. Its not fair how people are being treated.