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INSULT Asbestos victims feared the compensation fund would run out within months. Meanwhile, disgraced executives Peter Macdonald and Peter Shafron were awarded Aus$10m (£4m) in a severance deal. Image: Victorian Trades Hall Council


DEAD SERIOUS The union campaign for asbestos disease victims forced James Hardie into negotiations with ACTU, Australia's top union body. Image: MUA


Hazards issue 88 contents

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JAMES HARDIE CAMPAIGN



Don't mess with the unions
[Hazards 88 pages 8-9, October-December 2004]

James Hardie Industries was a global giant, highly respected and highly profitable. Then the company crossed the unions by trying to evade its asbestos compensation liabilities. A global union campaign has seen James Hardie's rapid descent from darling of the stockmarket to company in crisis, facing protests and legal action on three continents.

Companies can insulate themselves from local campaigns and they can blackmail a national government with threats of closure or relocation. But they canít do that worldwide. A 17 September international union protest met shareholders at James Hardieís AGM in the Netherlands (below).

Faced with an unrelenting campaign, the company gave in. In December 2004 unions and campaigners in Australia signed a deal with James Hardie for what is believed to be the largest personal injury settlement in Australia's history.

Measures agreed include no cap on the overall funding or payments to victims and an up-front cash 'buffer' equivalent to two years of claims plus the payment of a further year of claims in advance, equivalent to Aus$250 million (£99.2m).

Latest asbestos news


Image IFBWW

Union campaign webpages on James Hardie

International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF)

Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU)

Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC)


Don't mess with the unions

Don't mess with the unions
Hazards 88 Oct-Dec 2004
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