ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has expressed great pride in the role of unions and union members in achieving justice for the victims of James Hardie asbestos products.
Mr Combet said today:
After six years of struggle, unions are pleased to see James Hardie now taking responsibility for its Australian asbestos victims.
“What unions have helped secure is a final, open ended, tax-office and now shareholder-approved funding agreement from James Hardie which will see Australian victims of its asbestos products properly compensated now and into the future.
“Following the 99.6% vote of support from James Hardie shareholders the company will make an initial payment of around $185 million into the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund with further regular payments to be made over the minimum 40 year life of the agreement.
“The pressure of unions, along with the NSW Government and the tireless work of the victim support groups and the community has been crucial to the success of this campaign.
“I would like to pay a special tribute to the NSW Labor Government under Premier Morris Iemma and former Premier Bob Carr. Bob Carr’s personal support was crucial to the success of this campaign.
“I would also like to thank Bernie Banton for his courage and tenacity.
“There has been such broad support from unions it is hard to single out individuals, however the AMWU in NSW who represent many current and former James Hardie employees and the CFMEU have also played an enormously important role in this campaign.
“The health and safety of working Australians is a bread and butter issue for unions and will continue to be despite the Federal Government’s best efforts to nobble our role.
“Without unions whom can the victims of corporate wrongdoing turn to?” asked Mr Combet.
Download the attached background fact sheet and chronology of important events in the James Hardie campaign.