"I would have been up the creek with no paddle without the union journey insurance," says Kelly Bensley.
When Centrelink’s Kelly Bensley broke her foot outside her office, little did she know her union membership would be the thing that saved her from serious financial problems.
Journey insurance that covers you in case of injury to or from work or
during breaks is just one of the many benefits that comes when you join
For Kelly Bensley, 29, her union membership covered her salary for three weeks after the accident.
The Brisbane Customer Service Advisor and mother-of-two was leaving
work for the day and slipped on the steps of the car park, twisting and
breaking a bone in her right foot.
The accident in April 2009 put her in Wynnum Hospital then off work for
six weeks. With less than three weeks of holiday and personal leave Ms
Bensley was surprised to find she had no workers compensation coverage
as the accident happened outside the workplace.
With rent to pay and children to feed she was not only concerned about recovering from the accident but making ends meet.
Fortunately Ms Bensley’s membership in the CPSU meant she was eligible
for journey insurance cover provided by the union. The union insurance
paid her wage for three weeks.
“I would have been up the creek with no paddle without the union journey insurance,” Ms Bensley said.
“I have two children to look after and rent to pay. We would have
really struggled without the journey cover because we couldn’t get by
on my partner’s wage. My workmates at Centrelink were really
supportive and they couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be covered since
the accident happened in the work carpark.
“No one seems to understand the way the compensation system works. I
was just relieved I was a CPSU member so I could be paid for the period
I had no leave left.”
In April 2007, the Howard Government used its Senate majority to
drastically reduce workers’ compensation arrangements for public sector
workers. Among many other changes, the Government removed workers’
compensation cover for public servants who are injured while travelling
between home and work.
In August 2007 the CPSU introduced its own ‘income maintenance
insurance’ for union members. The idea is to provide a ‘safety net’
while the campaign for a better deal plays out.
The CPSU is campaigning to return workers’ compensation rights to
Commonwealth employees for the journey to and from work and breaks.
Last year the CPSU won a commitment from the Federal Labor Government
to re-instate recess cover – but Coalition Senators have recommended
that off site rest breaks continue to be excluded from the legislation.
A key element of our Better Way to Bargain campaign for consistent conditions in the APS is to win back workers’ compensation coverage for journey and recess breaks.
CPSU membership gives you access to a wide range of discounts and deals
and journey insurance is just an example. You can join securely online here or by calling 1300 137 636.
For most CPSU members it costs between $8 to $11 a week to be part of
the union, proportionally less for part timers. Union membership is
fully tax deductible so when you combine that saving with the many
other benefits of membership, joining is a smart move.