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Issue No. 218 30 April 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

End of the Casual Affair
The Secure Employment Test Case that kicks off in the coming week in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission will be an important test of how far down the path of labour market deregulation we have travelled.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Terror Australis
The Howard Government has just discovered the nation's ports are a terrorist target. The International Transport Federation's Dean Summers has been warning them for years.

Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Hidden in the Australian Workers Union Sydney office is a mild-mannered industrial officer who once strutted the international cricket stage, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: The Hell of Troy
On the basis of a couple of hours in the witness box, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole described Troy Stratti as "credible". Six men who, together, have known the company director for the best part of 50 years beg to differ.

Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Traditional unions are rediscovering the power of grassroots organising. Paddy Gorman reports from the coal face.

Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
Evan Jones argues that economic policy making has been narrowed and rendered mechanistic and antiseptic.

History: Vicious Old Lady
Despite its Liberal leanings, the Sydney Morning Herald has never been shy of bashing unions, writes Neale Towart.

International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Thailand must end its crackdown on Burmese fleeing rights abuses in their military-ruled homeland, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Review: War Unfogged
Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: TAFE
A TAFE student struggling under the weight of fees shares his wordly wisdom

N E W S

 WA Bosses Duck for Cover

 Static Hits Digital Revolution

 Rising Sun Sets on Costello

 Terror Telegraphs New Era

 Dust Storm Greets Hardie

 Psych Nurses Seek Safety

 Work Bad for Your Health

 Govt Lays Death Track

 Howard Slugs Battlers

 APHEDA Wins Award

 Feds: Freedom Is Slavery

 Free Trade Fun Day

 Activists Whatís On!

C O L U M N S

Postcard
A Voice for Peace
Palestinian trade union leader calls on militants to lay down their arms while the ICFTU protests harassment of Palestinian union leader.

The Soapbox
The Double Standard Bearers
Nicholas Way argues that when it comes to collective action, the Howard Government has different views depending on whether you are a unionist or a small business.

The Locker Room
The Fine Print
While the result mightnít be everything, it does make the back of the newspaper more interesting, as Phil Doyle reports.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Ian West crunches the numbers in Macquarie Street and finds virtue in deficit.

L E T T E R S
 Tom is UN-Amazed
 Organís Manslaughter Pics
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Dust Storm Greets Hardie


Dying workers will front James Hardie boss, Peter MacDonald, when he appears before an inquiry into an $800 million shortfall in compensation funds set aside by his company.

James Hardie, who made millions out of asbestos over decades as an Australian building materials giant, has refused to guarantee any future compensation claims.

"We have to take this right up to the inquiry," says Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) safety officer Dick Whitehead, who labelled asbestos an "evil" that was known to be dangerous since the 1930s.

Exposure to asbestos, now banned across Australia, causes debilitating respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Whitehead recalled from his days in the power industry, how wives and family members of workers also contracted diseases after coming into contact with the deadly fibres.

Whitehead will join other workers at a rally outside the inquiry this week to demand justice for the victims of asbestos diseases in NSW.

The exact time and date of MacDonald's appearance is not yet known but Whitehead says it will be publicised through union networks and media when it is revealed.

Workers allege that James Hardie Industries has turned its back on tens of thousands of dying Australians after setting up a trust to cover the company's compensation liabilities.

The trust, known as the Medical Research & Compensation Foundation, was established in 2001 to provide money to separate funds, AMABA and AMACA, to which James Hardie transferred liabilities to many of the 40,000 Australians expected to by killed by asbestosis or mesothelioma by 2020.

Shortly afterwards, James Hardie relocated, for legal purposes, to the Netherlands.

The NSW Labor Council, the AMWU, MUA, ETU and CFMEU campaigned strongly for the NSW government to establish an inquiry once the $800 million shortfall became known.

Analysts estimate the total bill for compensation from asbestos related claims against James Hardie will top $6 billion.


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