||Issue No. 197||26 September 2003|
Coming to the Party
Interview: Crowded Lives
Activists: Life With Brian
Industrial: National Focus
Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Economics: Beating the Bastards
Media: Three Corners
History: The Brisbane Line
Trade: The Dumping Problem
Review: Frankie's Way
The Locker Room
A Sick War
Asbestos Prospect for Home Buyers
"The company has notified it will be painting a bright fluorescent green substance on top of all areas of asbestos contamination it has identified," Transport Workers Union secretary, Tony Sheldon, revealed this week.
Sheldon's union is the driving force behind six Boral Ethical Shareholders resolutions included in the official notice of meeting for the concrete company's October 21 AGM. One, calling for 30 percent of directors' income to be pegged to Boral's health and safety record, is the first OH&S resolution to go before an AGM of Australian shareholders.
All relate to health and safety, or corporate governance, and company directors have urged shareholders to reject every one of them.
Sheldon said Boral had won safety awards for its pamphlets and presentations but on the job actions didn't match its words.
He said a number of inspections of Boral sites, over 12 months, had turned up a string of OH&S concerns that directors should concern themselves with - in the interests of the workforce and shareholders.
"We have seen the death of a kiln worker and the blasting of three workers by hot cement," Sheldon said.
"Imagine standing there, the kilns open up and three of you are blasted by 700 degrees worth of hot cement. In some cases it welds onto your bones where the flesh has been burned away."
Boral Ethical Shareholders was established when 115 owner drivers, facing Supreme Court action over industrial measures in support of contract negotiations, bought shares in the company and formed their own ginger group.
With the TWU handling industrial strategy, Boral Ethical Shareholders took on corporate adviser, Michael Walsh, the publisher of Ethical Investor magazine, in a bid to force its issues onto the AGM agenda.
The drivers presented a comprehensive health and safety audit to back their call for the Boral board to establish a OH&S sub-committee to review procedures and report back to next year's AGM.
They are also calling for limits on executive remuneration and for directors' payments to be taken out of their hands and made the responsibility of shareholders, by vote at AGMs.
Instead, the Boral board will urge shareholders to give it the right to boost directors fees from a maximum of $650,000 to $1 million a year.
Undeterred by the director's recommendation, posted out with last week's meeting notice, the TWU has arranged meetings with institutional investors to lobby support for the Ethical Shareholders' resolutions.
NSW Labor Council will organise a meeting of all Boral unions to build industrial support for the campaign.
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