The Guardian 12 October, 2005
Make James Hardie pay
for NZ asbestos misery
On August 17 last, a former New Zealander worker (now an Australian resident) won an important legal case in a NSW court which affects the rights of all workers who were exposed to James Hardie products in New Zealand.
The Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW held James Hardie responsible for injury and illness caused by asbestos products it exported to New Zealand and ordered it to pay the ex-New Zealand worker damages in excess of $300,000.
The workers had contracted asbestosis as a result of breathing in asbestos dust from James Hardie products during the 1960s while working as a lagger in New Zealand. The union says that no doubt James Hardie will spend plenty of money trying to overturn the courtís decision but for now it has to pay the worker, and so it rightly should!
In recent decades New Zealand governments have stripped workers of their legal rights and denied New Zealand workers access to proper justice, courts and compensation. This has left all New Zealanders unprotected against negligent companies such as James Hardie in their native country.
As the CFMEU points out, this case shows that in NSW (for the time being) workers still have some legal rights and access to courts and it means that James Hardie cannot hide behind grossly unfair New Zealand laws for the human misery its asbestos exports caused in New Zealand.
The Construction Division of the CFMEU recommends that all workers who have an asbestos illness as a result of being exposed to James Hardie products in New Zealand (or anywhere else for that matter) should immediately seek legal advice from the CFMEU Legal Department on 02 9749 0400.