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Shame, James Hardie, shame!

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 01:35 am
Thousands protest asbestos 'shame'September 15, 2004 - 3:16PM

Thousands joined nationwide protests ( in Australia) today demanding full compensation for asbestos victims from building-products company James Hardie.

James Hardie is accused of avoiding its asbestos liabilities by moving its headquarters offshore in 2001.

The company left $293 million in a foundation for victims, but that is expected to fall more than $1 billion short of what is required.


http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/09/15/1094927620238.html

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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 11,967 • Replies: 90
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 01:50 am
Unions accuse the company of moving its headquarters to the Netherlands to try to avoid its responsibilities to victims who contracted asbestos related diseases through exposure to its products.

In Sydney, 5000 unionists and asbestos disease sufferers rallied outside the company's information meeting at Darling Harbour, waving placards and chanting for James Hardie to "pay their victims now".

ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the company had attempted to dodge its responsibilities to victims by moving its assets offshore.

"I think this is the most disgusting corporate act in our history . . . the Australian union movement is not going to rest until they have brought justice to the victims."


http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10774489%255E12377,00.html
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 02:19 am
Sad....and very angry-making....especially since they are saoid to have known about very negative research long before asbestos' role in mesothilioma (sp???) became public - just llike hancock....grrrrr. HIS companies are still fighhting every case - in hopes the plaintiff will die before a verdict is reached.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 02:28 am
Yes, I feel exactly the same as you do, Deb! Terminal illness is NOT an acceptable outcome of doing your job. This is terrible! Shame on James Hardie!
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 02:47 am
.... and I wonder if, in the Netherlands, James Hardie is presenting itself as a viable, respectable company? Roll on international workers' organizations! Workers in James Hardie projects outside of Oz need to know, in advance, what sort of employer they're dealing with.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 02:55 am
Hmmmm - I wonder how strong unions are in the Netherlands?

Remember how the relevant American unions helped us in the dock struggle????

No doubt the ACTU is in contact with their peak body......
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 03:19 am
Well, the workers in the Netherlands should be warned. Yes. But why is it up to trade unions to have to warn workers in other countries about a company with a history like this? What does the world of business have to say? How can James Hardie just keep on doing business as usual? Is there no morality in the global business world? But I think I already know the answer to that. <sigh>
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2004 05:38 am
The special commission of inquiry into Jame's Hardie's move to the Netherlands has found its chief executive knowingly provided false and misleading information when establishing the Medical Research and Compensation Fund.

ASIC to investigate James Hardie breaches

The Australian Stock Exchange has referred a report on how James Hardie set up a foundation to fund its asbestos liabilities to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

A special inquiry conducted by New South Wales QC, David Jackson has found the fund is $1.5 billion short and will run out of money within three years.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200409/s1204017.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200409/r29828_74422.jpg
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2004 06:54 am
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,1658,381658,00.jpg

And about time, too!
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2004 07:54 am
AND!!!!!! International labour organizations ARE joining with Oz workers to "out" the bastards!!!! Demos overseas!!!

Solidarity forever....
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2004 07:56 am
Yes, Deb, yes! Bastards! Evil or Very Mad
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Oct, 2004 05:47 pm
James Hardie to meet with unions
October 1, 2004 - 9:15AM

James Hardie Industries NV will sit down with union officials for the first time on Friday to begin discussions about the best way to compensate the company's asbestos victims.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet and representatives of asbestos victims will hold talks on how the company will fund its outstanding and future liabilities to victims.

Lawyer Nancy Milne said the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation (MRCF) would wait for the outcome of talks between James Hardie and unions before it decided whether to sue the building products company.

The company has volunteered to provide funding for a statutory scheme to handle the compensation claims, but unions are opposed to such a scheme.

At the moment, victims of James Hardie asbestos products are compensated through the MRCF, a foundation James Hardie established in February 2001 to take over its asbestos liabilities.

James Hardie provided the foundation with $293 million.

That money is expected to run out in just three years with a shortfall of well more than $1 billion.

An inquiry into the funding arrangements found that James Hardie's chief executive Peter Macdonald and then legal counsel Peter Shafron had misled and deceived the directors of the MRCF by allowing them to rely on unsuitable funding projections.

Legal options included pursuing damages in the United States - where James Hardie conducts most of its business.

The MRCF could seek to sue James Hardie under the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisation (RICO) Act.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Oct, 2004 05:51 pm
http://smh.com.au/ffximage/2004/10/01/cartoon0110_gallery__550x348.jpg
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2004 11:39 pm
The Hardie boys quit with $10m
Ean Higgins
October 23, 2004


THE two James Hardie executives found responsible for depriving future asbestos disease victims of up to $2billion yesterday walked away with a $10million golden handshake between them.

In one of the most dramatic days in the long-running asbestos compensation scandal, chief executive Peter Macdonald resigned, taking away an $8.8million severance package.

The amount is 35 times the average compensation payout of $250,000 to an asbestos disease victim.

But Mr Macdonald and chief financial officer Peter Shafron, along with new Hardie chairman Meredith Hellicar, could potentially risk losing their personal wealth.

The asbestos compensation foundation they set up with insufficient funds yesterday threatened to sue them individually.

Medical Research and Compensation Foundation director Ian Hutchinson said Hardie must strike a satisfactory new compensation deal in negotiations with unions and asbestos victim groups within two weeks.

Otherwise, Mr Hutchinson told The Weekend Australian, the MRCF would lodge a statement of claim suing the Hardie group of companies, Mr Macdonald, Mr Shafron, probably Ms Hellicar and possibly some other directors and executives. "We're not bluffing," Mr Hutchinson said.

Aside from the payout, Mr Macdonald also holds options to 3.8million Hardie shares worth $23million on paper, though many of them are worthless at current share prices. He also has shares worth $2.6million, from which he won an extra $38,000 yesterday from the 9c rise in the company's share price to $6.15.

Mr Macdonald's departure came a month after a damning NSW special commission of inquiry found he misled the stock exchange and broke laws, which could put him in jail for up to seven years for his role in setting up the MRCF in 2001 without enough funds.

Mr Macdonald will continue to serve as a consultant to the company for an unspecified period of months, Ms Hellicar told a Sydney press conference yesterday.

Mr Macdonald, a highly successful CEO who championed the company's expansion into the US, raised profits fivefold under his tenure to $US125million ($170million) - ironically raising the prospects that Hardie can now pay the mounting asbestos liabilities it had cut itself off from.

Mr Shafron, who was found to have engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct for his role in setting up the MRCF, took away $1.2million.

Ms Hellicar said the payouts, including superannuation and other entitlements, were contractual and could not be taken back if either executive, presently under investigation, is found guilty of an offence.

The size of the payouts, and the fact that Mr Macdonald will still be at least partly on the company payroll, outraged unions and asbestos compensation groups.

"Hardies had plenty of means of separating themselves from their asbestos liabilities, but they have trouble with cutting the umbilical cords with their executives," said Asbestos Diseases Foundation vice-president Bernie Banton.

The company was still refusing to put up a concrete offer in negotiations, he said.

"They are like fleas - they jump from position to position and suck the lifeblood out of you."

Ms Hellicar said both Mr Macdonald and Mr Shafron would vigorously defend themselves against the claims of wrongdoing against them, as she would do if any were brought against her.

In another move to firing up the blowtorch on Hardie, NSW Premier Bob Carr, who said the payouts came on "a shameful day for corporate Australia", threatened new legislation against the company.

Mr Carr did not specify what he was planning, but it is understood the new law would force the company to meet its compensation shortfall.

The resignations will put the highly respected former NSW TAB executive Russell Chenu in the role of interim chief financial officer. Louis Gries, a US executive of the company, will become interim chief executive..

Ms Hellicar said the company was committed to finding a solution to the compensation shortfall, but indicated a return to a harder line in insisting on cutting out lawyers and saying that the company had no legal obligation to pay.

Legal experts have said that if successful claims are brought against the individuals, their indemnity insurance might not cover them.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11156596%255E601,00.html
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 03:55 am
Grrrr...
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2004 01:56 am
Jeeze, how bad can it get for the victims of James Hardie?


Hardie victims face funds shortfall
October 25, 2004 - 1:33PM


Victims of lung diseases caused by James Hardie Industries' asbestos products may miss out on compensation payments if the company does not provide a $100 million cash injection within the next few weeks.

The foundation that handles compensation claims by James Hardie's victims has warned it may have to call in a liquidator in a matter of weeks unless it gets a top-up of funding.
The Medical Research and Compensation Foundation (MRCF) had previously expected it would have enough funds to last for three years.

Now those funds will run out by April, with the 600 victims that currently have claims with the MRCF - as well as future victims - to face reduced payments or no payment at all under a liquidator.

The MRCF's managing director Dennis Cooper today said the foundation had written to James Hardie and provided the company with details of its current financial position.

"The position is very, very dire," Mr Cooper said.

"We're looking for another injection in the order of $100 million as a kind of guarantee, which is free in the sense that it's non-refundable, it's for the victims and it's unconditional."

Mr Cooper said it would be "disastrous" if James Hardie did not provide the funds to the foundation.

"It would be a disastrous situation for victims. Victims may well not be paid," Mr Cooper told journalists today.

"But I'm hopeful that the funds can be made available."

James Hardie's net operating profit for the last financial year, ended on March 31, 2004, was $US125.3 million ($A169.03 million).

The building products company has forecast a net profit of between $US135 million ($A182.11 million) and $US169 million ($A227.98 million) for the current financial year.

The MRCF's latest funding woes are caused by what Mr Cooper described as a "legal impasse".

The foundation was due to receive a payment of $85 million in September from a former asbestos-producing subsidiary of James Hardie, now known simply as ABN 60.

However Mr Cooper said ABN 60 refused to make the payment until the foundation affirmed a special Deed of Covenant and Indemnity, which would prevent the foundation from suing ABN 60.

He said the foundation did not want to lose its ability to sue and possibly recover further assets from ABN 60 if needs be.


Mr Cooper said he was now awaiting contact from James Hardie to arrange a meeting between the two parties.

"I'm available at any time to be contacted," Mr Cooper said.

- AAP
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2004 02:12 am
Last Update: Monday, October 25, 2004. 5:36pm (AEST)
ABC Online news


Unions urge PM to step in to Hardie dispute


The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called for Prime Minister John Howard to ensure James Hardie fairly compensates asbestos victims.

The asbestos compensation foundation, which the company set up, has revealed it could run out of money as early as next year.

The foundation says James Hardie is refusing to pay $85 million from its shell company that it left in Australia, unless the foundation agrees to take over the remaining asbestos liabilities.

Managing director Dennis Cooper says the shell - which is called ABN 60 - wants indemnity for asbestos claims confirmed.

"ABN60 is saying if we meet that demand, we expect you to affirm the deed, which means we'd be then prevented from taking an action," he said.

ACTU secretary Greg Combet says James Hardie has acted in an appalling and disgusting manner and the Federal Government should intervene.

"The time is rapidly running out when John Howard can no longer duck this issue," Mr Combet said.

"John Howard is going to have take a stand in relation to this."

The ACTU and the foundation say James Hardie has still not proposed any concrete and legally binding way to fulfil its promise to making up the shortfall for victims.

Deadline[/size]

The ACTU has also threatened to break off negotiations with the James Hardie company unless it responds to plans to resolve the funding short-fall for future asbestos victims.

Mr Combet says negotiations with James Hardie to solve the $1.5 billion funding crisis have stalled.

"I've provided a deadline to the company which is a serious deadline," he said.

"There's not too much time to go on it and if they don't respond on these key issues and we get agreement on those things by the end of that deadline, then we're going to be taking alternatives steps to chase them down."

He says that could include litigation and action by state governments.

Payout dispute

The ACTU has also criticised a major business leader for defending a multi-million dollar payout to James Hardie's top executive.

Hugh Morgan, the chairman of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) , has told the ABC's AM program that former James Hardie chief executive Peter McDonald was legally entitled to receive a nearly $9 million golden handshake.

Mr McDonald resigned on Friday.

Mr Combet says the payout has disgusted people in the community when James Hardie can not find the money to compensate asbestos victims.

"Now Mr Morgan, who's the representative of big business, reckons people's entitlements have got to be protected, the CEO's entitlements have to be protected," he said.

"Well, I don't hear him saying that when it comes to workers' entitlements and I haven't heard too much from the BCA or Mr Morgan about the rights of asbestos sufferers."

Hardie boycott

New South Wales Premier Bob Carr is threatening the company with a possible boycott of its products unless it tops up the fund.

He says the firm faces a likely boycott of its products backed by governments around the country if it fails to do the right thing.

The Local Government Association (LGA) supports a boycott and has called on councils across NSW not to use James Hardie products until the company agrees to compensation.

The Asbestos Diseases Support Foundation and the construction union addressed the LGA's annual conference in Armidale today, calling for support in the battle against the company.

Construction union secretary Andrew Ferguson says the lobbying was successful and will be important in efforts to convince James Hardie to agree to compensation demands.

"The decision was unanimous," Mr Ferguson said. "It demonstrates the isolation of James Hardie.

"They're demonstrating ongoing contempt, not just for the victims but also for the community at large and now they're facing a campaign of significant opposition."
`
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2004 02:49 am
Suspend Hardie executive payouts: Carr
October 25, 2004 - 11:28AM/the AGE


NSW Premier Bob Carr said there were grounds to suspend multi-million dollar payouts to departing James Hardie executives.

Mr Carr also urged Hugh Morgan, president of the Business Council of Australia who backed the huge James Hardie payouts, to talk to the victims of James Hardie asbestos products.

He said a NSW government-commissioned inquiry into James Hardie had found that James Hardie chief executive Peter Macdonald had potentially breached the corporate law, a criminal offence.

Mr Macdonald and former James Hardie chief financial officer Peter Shafron resigned from the company on Friday in the wake of an asbestos compensation crisis which has left a shortfall estimated at more than $1 billion.

Mr Macdonald is to receive a payout of $8.8 million.


Mr Morgan backed the payouts.

"It's up to the contractor relations that were entered into by the company with him some time ago," he told ABC radio.

"I have no doubt that that was something the board considered. My recollection is that the chairman said there was nothing they could do other than pay out those entitlements ot which he was entitled."

Mr Carr said today the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) would decide about prosecution and that would be done quickly.

"We passed legislation through the NSW parliament signed by the governor as recently as last Thursday that puts all the material out of our special commission of inquiry in the hands of ASIC, shaving 6-12 months off the time they will take to get these prosecutions into court," Mr Carr told ABC radio.

"In addition to that, Mr Macdonald deceived the Australian Stock Exchange about what James Hardie was up to.

"These are adequate grounds for at least suspending any payments to these chief executives until these matters are resolved.


"I stand by what I have said, namely about the Jackson commission of inquiry and its findings including its finding that found Mr Macdonald's evidence was not to be believed as adequate grounds for James Hardie deciding
not to make these payments or at least not making them at this time."

Mr Carr today suggested Mr Morgan should do what he had done and sit down with the victims of James Hardie products, including those with incurable lung cancers.

"In surgeries this week and next week, people will be similarly diagnosed," he said.

"But there is no money available to meet their payments, in all likelihood, to provide compensation payments because the foundation James Hardie set up and then deprived of money is about to run out of funds earlier than people suspected."


- AAP
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2004 04:03 am
http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2004/10/25/26n_cartoon_gallery__550x398.jpg
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2004 04:44 am
http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2004/10/25/edcart_gallery__550x272.jpg
0 Replies
 
 

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