||Issue No. 265||27 May 2005|
Hit and Myth
Interview: Fortress NSW
Unions: Fashions Afield
Industrial: Pay Dirt
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Big Day Out
International: Making History
Economics: The Fear Factor
Review: The Robots Revolt
Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The Locker Room
One Hell Of A Job
US Fan Mail
Victims Champ Joins Resistance
Banton, who has fielded Hollywood offers to put his life story on film, became the human face of a successful campaign against James Hardie’s effort to dud asbestos victims of compensation entitlements.
Today, in Sydney, he said victims, and their families, would never have won their $4.9 billion settlement without strong, active union support.
The asbestosis sufferer pledged his backing to delegates from across the movement at a Sydney meeting, organised by Unions NSW.
"As long as I can breathe I will be fighting to defend the Australian union movement," Banton said. "I take this opportunity to pledge my uncompromising support for your campaign to defend trade union rights.
"I condemn the Howard government's industrial relations attack on Australian workers and their families. The proposed laws are unjust and unfair.
"However, I am confident the community at large will recognise the unfairness of these new laws and join your campaign. I assure you of the support of asbestos victims and people who value the principles of social justice and a fair go."
Banton said asbestos victims owed a debt to trade unionists who spearheaded the battle against James Hardie's plan to move off shore and leave thousands of families without compensation.
The corporation was exposed and hunted down by a campaign spearheaded by the AMWU, CFMEU, MUA and Unions NSW.
In the end, Banton joined ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, in negotiating a deal that committed James Hardie to funding compensation claims for the next 50 years.
Meanwhile, the Uniting Church has branded elements of Howard's agenda "immoral".
National director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev Elenie Poulos, said the labour market was not like any other.
"People are not commodoties in the service of greater profits and should not be exploited," Poulos said. "The Government's decision to strip workers of their rights to challenge unfair dismissals is immoral."
Poulos said her church was already concerned for the well-being of increasing numbers of casual workers, especially women, and could see nothing in Howard's proposals that would improve their situations.
"We must remember that the purpose of a strong economy is to help Australians access secure and equitable standards of living," she said.
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