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Payout Finalized in James Hardie Deal

AMSTERDAM- James Hardie shareholders unanimously approved an asbestos compensation plan that promises to payout nearly $4 billion over the next 40 years. The Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund which took years to finalize will be receiving the first payment within 2 weeks.

James Hardie which had relocated to Amsterdam in the hopes of avoiding some of their liabilities now finds itself with the burden of funding a $4 billion pool.

The battle for compensation began nearly 12 years ago and it took another 6 years before an agreement was made to create the fund. Years of setbacks internal strife and legal maneuvering put the fund in doubt until recent corporate moves and government pressure finally sealed the deal.

While some victims celebrated the final plan, ACTU secretary Greg Combet was somewhat pessimistic of Hardie's ability to maintain the fund. He noted that many large industrial companies have gone under because of their asbestos liabilities.

Combet noted the persistence and determination of unions, individual sufferers, and health organizations for their role in the deal.

Some victims expressed some resentment over the 12 year struggle with many taking a, "Believe it when I see it approach."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard also called the decision "very pleasing news," while also nothing that the legal battle took longer than it should have.