||Issue No. 233||13 August 2004|
Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Hardie Boycott Sweeps State
Unions, asbestos disease sufferers and MRCF, the fund established by James Hardie Industries, this week joined forces to urge the NSW Government to reject the company’s bid for a statutory compensation scheme.
Community support flooded in with seven councils voting to boycott James Hardie products and the mayors of six others confirming resolutions would go before their next meetings.
Sydney City, Leichhardt, Parramatta, Canada Bay, Newcastle, Ashfield and Ryde have all instructed staff to seek building materials from other sources.
Bankstown, Waverley, Randwick, Wollongong Penrith and Canterbury have flagged likely support.
The CFMEU this week urged individual handy persons and renovators to join the campaign.
It urged consumers to brush the following products until James Hardie agrees to fully compensate Australians dying from contact with its products - Exo Tec façade panel; HardiColour washroom partitions; HardiePanel compressed sheets; Vitropanel; Artists Columns and Sunscreens; Ezi-Grid tilebacker; CMX System; HardieScreen lattice; the D3-100 Fixing System; Villaboard Lining; Versilux wall and ceiling linings; Soffit and Soffit Linings; Sanishute waste disposal systems; James Hardie fencing products.
"Unfortunately, the bottom line appears to be the only thing Hardie directors understand," CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said.
James Hardie was Australia's largest producer of asbestos-related in products.
In 2001, it moved its corporate home to Holland to become known as James Hardie NV, leaving behind a trust fund to meet compensation claims from tens of thousands of Australians expected to die from exposure to its products.
Hardie assured the NSW Supreme Court its trust fund, MRCF, would have access to $1.9 billion in assets, primarily quarantined partly-paid shares.
However, at a secret meeting barely 12 months after getting the green light to relocate, directors secretely rescinded that arrangement.
The Commission of Inquiry has heard its rapidly expiring trust is likely to fall more than $2 billion short of being able to compensate asbestos Australian asbestos victims.
Now, based in the Netherlands and the US, the company says it has "no legal or moral obligation" to Australian sufferers.
The whole corporate restructure has been resolutely opposed by the AMWU from the time it was floated.
State secretary, Paul Bastian, warned politicians of the likely ramifications, from the off, calling the restructure an "act or corporate bastardry".
The CFMEU, MUA and NSW Labor Council have joined the AMWU in campaigning against James Hardie's bid to cut and run.
Last week, counsel assisting the special inquiry established by Premier Bob Carr, recommended that California-based James Hardie CEO, Macdonald, face fraud charges for his part in the restructure.
Howard Ducks Asbestos Challenge
Meanwhile, John Howard has refused to commit the Liberal Party to returning donations made by James Hardie since it hatched its corporate restructure.
Howard refused to make any commitment until see the final outcome of the commission of inquiry, expected to report around election time.
He was put under pressure when Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, turned over $77,500 to asbestos sufferers campaigning against the former stockmarket darling.
In handing the cheque to Asbestos Dieseas Foundation of Australia vice president, Bernie Banton, Latham said it represented all the money donated to federal and NSW Labor since 2001.
Workers Online understands Coalition parties have pocketed more than $100,000 in the same period.
Bastian publicly challenged Latham to hand back the money when the ALP leader addressed the recent AMWU national conference.
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