International Workers' Memorial Day dedicated to asbestos victims

26 April 2006

International Workers' Memorial Day dedicated to asbestos victims

International Workers' Memorial Day, which falls on 28 April, will this year be dedicated to asbestos victims. The day (which began in the United States, where "Memorial Day" has long been an annual event to pay tribute to US soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in wars) is intended to draw attention to the terrible toll, warlike in its proportions, taken by industrial accidents and diseases, most of which are avoidable. The dedication to victims of asbestos is a direct consequence of the international asbestos conference organised last year by the SP. On Workers' Memorial Day this year, SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard will, at a press conference at half past two that afternoon, present a publication bringing together the various contributions to the conference.

“Corporations, governments and private individuals responsible for saddling us with this carcinogenic dust, and who continue to rake in large sums of money as a result, must be called to account," said Ms Liotard. .

At the Asbestos Conference more than twenty-five countries were represented. Workers and their families who had suffered the consequences of this were present, along with carers working with people incapacitated by asbestos-related sickness, public health activists, medical experts, jurists, journalists, civil servants, factory inspectors, experts on asbestos removal, and scientists.

“At the end of the conference a European Action Plan Against Asbestos for 2005-2006 was adopted," Ms Liotard noted. "In the Action Plan the European Parliament, European Commission and EU Council of Ministers were called upon actively to support a total international ban. We want to see an EU- wide law forbidding any company registered within any of the twenty-five member states forbidden to use asbestos anywhere in the world. Replacing lost markets for asbestos by selling it in developing countries must be stopped."

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands itself, the SP is preparing to take further action to ensure that the problems of asbestos contamination of the wider environment – for example in paths in the area known as the Achterhoek - which is leading to increasing numbers of victims amongst people who never worked with the stuff, are tackled.

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