Rio Tinto must drop cynical challenge to asbestos compensation in NT: CFMEU

Rio Tinto

The CFMEU is urging Rio Tinto to drop its High Court challenge in an asbestos compensation case in the Northern Territory, in which the mining giant is seeking to limit future claims from victims.

In a court ruling on Friday, a former Gove refinery worker won his compensation case and was awarded $425,000 from Rio Tinto after originally being denied compensation due to a legal technicality.

Rio Tinto immediately launched a legal challenge attempting to stop workers making common law claims for asbestos and restrict them to the Territory’s inadequate workers’ compensation system, which denies justice to asbestos victims due to the long gestation period of the illness.

“Rio Tinto should immediately drop this legal challenge,” said CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor.

“It is a bare-faced attempt to prevent asbestos victims making successful future compensation claims.

“When Rio Tinto bought the Gove aluminium refinery, it bought a workplace that had been exposing workers to the dangerous effects of asbestos for many years.

“Rio Tinto must take full responsibility for the tragic human fallout of Gove’s history.

“Friday’s court ruling granting compensation to Zorko Zabic was an acknowledgment that the Territory’s workers compensation is not up to scratch – with its statute of limitations not allowing for the timelines associated with asbestos-related disease.

“It has opened the door for other workers, including other former Gove refinery workers, to achieve compensation through common law.

“Rio Tinto should immediately drop its cynical challenge to this ruling and accept the rights of asbestos victims to pursue compensation claims through all legal avenues available to them.

“The CFMEU will keep fighting to ensure that all asbestos victims can stand up to mining giants like Rio and speak out against their inhumane policies.”

The CFMEU is urging people to sign a petition calling on Rio Tinto to drop its High Court challenge in an asbestos compensation case in the Northern Territory.

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The CFMEU is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and furnishing products, mining and energy production.


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