The Guardian • Issue #2049


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2049

The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into mesothelioma was released today. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer in the mesothelium – the protective lining on the inside of body cavities and the outside of internal organs. The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, but it takes 20 - 40 years on average. Despite asbestos being banned in all forms nearly 20 years ago, cases continue to increase. Australia has one of the highest measured incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world: between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma per year. On average, two people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia each day. Exposure through the built environment is still having a legacy effect. The new report showed for the 1,028 participants assessed as having possible or probable asbestos exposure: 78 per cent of men provided information indicating occupational exposure, and 99 per cent of women provided information indicating non-occupational exposure. As long as asbestos stays in buildings, the threat of mesothelioma remains. ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien warned that “Mesothelioma is not going away. Asbestos remains the biggest killer of workers in Australia, and as long as we have materials in our buildings that contain asbestos, this terrible disease will stay with us for decades to come. The prioritised, safe and coordinated removal of asbestos from buildings must be a priority for this government. We reiterate our calls for a worldwide ban on this toxic material. The Australian data highlights that despite banning asbestos in all forms we continue to see rising cases of mesothelioma and asbestos related disease. Knowing what we know about mesothelioma, it is the disease not one more person should experience.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: Tugboat operator Svitzer has finally agreed to abandon its reckless and implausible legal action to cancel the EBA of almost 600 tugboat workers around Australia. The Maritime Union of Australia said this action would have led to pay cuts of 47 per cent, the loss of crucial safety and fatigue management measures, and destroyed job security for the hard-working, skilled crews upon whom our national supply chains depend. “The Svitzer EBA termination action is dead,” said MUA Sydney Branch Deputy Secretary, Paul Garrett. “This is a significant moment, as Svitzer have agreed to discontinue their EBA termination case, in full.” “Tugboat workers have been denied a pay rise for over four years as this process has been deliberately strung out by Svitzer’s managers and lawyers, with the added threat of complete termination hanging over their heads,” noted the MUA’s Assistant National Secretary, Jamie Newlyn. “Removing this threat will allow us to move forward constructively, and the three maritime unions will now work towards finalising a new agreement with Svitzer that delivers a fair pay rise along with the safety and job security measures our members depend on.”

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