|Issue No 85||23 February 2001|
Independent Eyes for Asbestos Deal
James Hardies Industries' offer to buy out its liability for asbestos-related illnesses should be reviewed by NSW Government actuaries, a 'skeptical' NSW trade union movement believes.
Labor Council delegates last night called on Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca to direct WorkCover actuaries to work with the Dust Diseases Tribunal to scrutinise James Hardies $293 million to settle all outstanding claims.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says he was skeptical about the James Hardie deal after being briefed by the company's spin doctors shortly before the offer was announced last week.
The company is proposing to put $293 million in a foundation that would deal with all claims, while dedicating a further $3 million to set up a research foundation into asbestos related illnesses.
Costa says the deal makes no provision for future claims, while the medical research foundation will be housed in an institution specializing in sleep disorder and asthma.
"I', extremely skeptical that this is anything more than an attempt to quarantine the company against future liabilities."
James Hardie is facing thousands of claims each year for illnesses ciontracted through exposure to asbestos products it marketed for decades in full knowledge of its carcinogenic effects.
The Maritime Union of Australia's Barry Robson, who told delegates he was 'putting a member in the ground every month' with asbestos-related diseases, says the offer is a scam of Patricks proportions.
"All that is happening is that James Hardie is trying to put a gloss ion the fact they are moving assets away from their business to limit the amount they will have to pay in compensation.
In an emotional address, Robson said that James Hardie shareholders were receiving "money tainted with the lasy gasp of our members' lives." He renewed calls for a strengthening of company law to send directors to jail
Robson says tens of thousands of Australian workers are expected to contract the deadly diseases in the coming decade.
Interview: Tony Abbott – Workers' Friend?
The new Workplace Relations minister relives his own union background and explains why he’s really just another worker at heart. Honestly.
Politics: The Politics of Petrol
Australia might be burning, but is it a fire that can be brought under control?
Organising: The Battle of Campsie
SDA delegate Maria Kavaratzis recounts how the Campsie Big W has been transformed into a union shop.
History: Scabbing Through the Ages
Neale Towart looks back at how popular culture has treated those workers who have not considered themselves part of the collective.
International: Diary of a Showdown
The Korean Metal Workers Federation recounts a week which culminated in violent attacks on workers outside the Daewoo factory.
Economics: Debt Dumping Campaign Enters New Phase
The millennial deadline might have passed, but Jubilee 2000 is not giving up the fight for debt cancellation for the world’s fifty-two poorest countries.
Health: The Real Drug Wars
As Africa attempts to deal with the HIV crisis, access to the medicines that can relieve victims’ suffering is emerging as a major humanitarian issue.
Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
John Howard has claimed the Liberal Party’s decimation in Western Australia and Queensland as a triumphant vindication of his party’s embracing of the national competition policy.
Review: Beyond a White Australia
As we ponder the One Nation renaissance, a new book challenges the current debates around xenophobia and the perceived threat of danger from Asia.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005