European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

Accueil > Topics > Health & Safety - working conditions > News list > Belgian court sentences Eternit at last

News list

28 March 2017

Belgian court sentences Eternit at last

On 28 March, the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld the sentence imposed on Eternit in 2011. The Belgian court considered that the company did not take sufficient safety measures to protect its workers and the factory’s neighbours, even though it had been aware that asbestos was highly carcinogenic since the 1970s.

Eternit was ordered to pay €25 000 in compensation to the plaintiffs, the Jonckheere family, as opposed to €250 000 at first instance. Asbestos took a terrible toll on this family, who lived near the Eternit factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos, a village 20 km north of Brussels. The father, a former engineer with Eternit, his wife, Françoise Vanoorbeeck, and two of their five sons died from cancers attributed to asbestos exposure.

It was Mrs Vanoorbeeck who brought legal proceedings against Eternit. After her death, her son Eric carried on the fight against the former asbestos cement manufacturer. Eternit is now owned by the multinational company Etex, a world leader in roofing and façade-cladding materials.

At the start of the trial, some 80 supporters of the Association des Victimes Belges de l’Amiante (Association of Belgian Asbestos Victims – Abeva), founded by Eric Jonckheere, demonstrated on the steps of the Brussels courthouse.

Sources: Belga, De Standaard.

Read more on asbestos workers’ groups struggle to get recognition for all asbestos victims  

All news