Tribute to Michel Vernier (1942-2009)
Michel Vernier, who started working at the age of 14, was always at the forefront of the pursuit for workers health protection and union representation. For 31 years he worked at the Coverit asbestos factory near the town of Mons, Belgium. As a consequence of his employment, he contracted asbestosis and later mesothelioma. His death on December 13, 2009, aged 67, was the 154th asbestos-linked fatality amongst the 267 workers made redundant when the plant closed in 1987.
The Coverit asbestos factory and two others in Belgium were owned by Eternit Belgium SA, a multinational with global asbestos interests. Michel kept a watching brief on the incidence of illness amongst his fellow workers at the Coverit factory; he was one of the first to observe the link between their illnesses and their asbestos employment.
Throughout his life, Michel fought for the asbestos victim's rights and in particular, those of his colleagues who passed away. Since the foundation in 2000 of ABEVA, the Belgian Asbestos Victims Association, Michel played an active part in its activities. He is greatly missed.
|Michel Vernier (left) and colleagues at Dunkirk demonstration, 2009.|
February 13, 2010