Hardie rewards asbestos rats
Unions are demanding that more than $10 million in payouts to disgraced James Hardie executives go to victims of their asbestos scam. NSW Labor Council Secretary John Robertson said the payout again highlighted the fact that James Hardie had learnt nothing in recent months about ethical behaviour. James Hardie last week announced that it would pay CEO Peter McDonald US$6.5 million, or A$8.83 million, to leave the company while former chief financial officer Peter Shafron, who has also resigned, would receive US$865,000. Mr Robertson said he was concerned that the company, in the middle of negotiations to meet its compensation liabilities, was "out of control". "This is an insult to victims of asbestos who are being told James Hardie does not have to meet their legal obligations and a slap in the face to negotiators trying to secure a just outcome", Mr Robertson said. "This company just does not get it — they are rewarding unethical behaviour with riches beyond the dreams of the people whose lives have been and will be destroyed by asbestos." "If the company had any regard for the victims of this elaborate scam, they would put these millions into the compensation fund rather than into the pockets of those responsible for this sorry affair." He was backed by Australian Manufacturing Workers Union NSW Secretary Paul Bastian who said the payment was an affront to people who had contracted deadly asbestos diseases by working for James Hardie. "How James Hardie could find their way through to doing that reinforces that this company has no sense of corporate morality or contrition towards its victims", said Mr Bastian. The conduct of both Macdonald and Shafron is being investigated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, after the Jackson Inquiry recommended that charges for breach of corporations law be laid. James Hardie has appointed promoted Louis Gries, previously the head of the company's US operations, as interim chief executive officer.