Saturday, December 10

The public fund for victims of asbestos is approved after more than a decade of struggle by those affected

The public compensation fund for victims of asbestos is a reality. This Wednesday, the Senate has approved by a large majority the law to create this mechanism that recognizes compensation from the State to people affected by this carcinogenic substance. The political majority has recognized that this Wednesday was facing a “historic injustice” with this group, many workers who faced exposure to this material, as well as their families and other environmental victims, who have been claiming this fund for more of a decade.

The faces of asbestos victims fighting for compensation

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With the majority unions and members of the victims’ associations present in the Upper House, as well as representatives of the Basque Parliament (which was the one who submitted the legislative initiative to the Congress of Deputies), the Senate has verified the consensus reached by all the political groups to give the green light to the measure, which follows in the footsteps of similar funds created in France, Holland and Belgium.

The fund will comply with “full compensation for damages to health resulting from exposure to asbestos suffered by any person in their work, domestic or environmental sphere in Spain, as well as their successors”, recognizes the law.

The rule was delayed in recent years due to changes in government, which interrupted the work of the Cortes, but also due to delays in parliamentary activity and political differences in Congress. Last March, the socialist group presented some amendments that broke the consensus reached. They proposed to exclude workers from economic compensation, a measure that several sources attributed to the Ministry of Social Security and that finally declined in the parliamentary process, after complaints from victims and unions.

Thousands of victims were left without reparation

The compensation fund is justified by the exposure to this toxic substance that many workers faced for years, as well as their families and other environmental victims, by companies that continued to use this material despite the knowledge that had existed for decades about its dangers.

“If an estimate is made of the annual number of cases of pathologies due to asbestos, between the years 2003 and 2009, there could have been 7,154 cases to compensate in its different modalities”, collects the bill. “In the whole of the Spanish State, between 1994 and 2008 the number of deaths directly linked to asbestos was 3,943”, the legal text encrypts.

Both the high number of victims and the manifestation of the diseases late, “decades later”, justify the creation of this public fund since in many cases the victims do not have access to compensation or any compensation from the companies, which in a large number of cases no longer exist or are insolvent.

The senators of various political groups have recognized the delay in approving the measure, but have celebrated this Wednesday as a “historic day” in which the majority of the Cortes put an end to this “historic debt”.

Now, the regulatory development of the fund is pending to determine compensation to the victims, which must be ready within a maximum period of three months. Several parliamentary groups, such as PNV and EH Bildu, have reiterated that they will be “attentive” to this development that will mark the operation and access to compensation, as well as its amount.