French Victims Denounce Flawed Report  

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



In a press release issued on September 14, 2015 headlined “The government buries individual access,” the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) denounced a report used by the government to reject calls for wider access to social security benefits, including early retirement, for asbestos-exposed workers. The decision was, ANDEVA said, based on a financial analysis of costs that was “utterly wrong, both morally and technically.”1 In an attempt to clarify the issues involved, a series of questions was put to Marc Hindry, an ANDEVA spokesman; the dialogue which ensued confirms a government determined to minimize liabilities at the expense of the injured.

QUESTION: Please explain ANDEVA’s criticisms of the report by Pierre Ricordeau, Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs, which was the basis for the government’s decision.

ANSWER: The decision on this subject which was announced this month (September 2015) was based on a financial analysis of costs and was utterly wrong, both morally and technically.

It was technically wrong. The motto of the report was that “it is not possible to implement the measure at a constant cost” and that it would place “too heavy a financial burden on employers.” One may ask what exactly is a too heavy burden for companies that made huge profits neglecting the health consequences of asbestos exposure for their employees and the population over many decades. One may also seriously contest the estimates given in this report.

It is morally wrong. Early retirement for workers heavily exposed to asbestos is not a privilege, it is a perfectly legitimate claim for workers with well documented shortened life expectancies. In France, during year 2013, for example, 83% of deaths with an occupational origin were due to asbestos exposure.

QUESTION: How does the French early retirement scheme for workers heavily exposed to asbestos work?

ANSWER: The scheme was established in 1998 and allowed workers to retire from the age of 50 if they fulfilled one of two conditions:

  1. They were suffering from a prescribed disease recognized as occupationally caused by exposure to asbestos.
  2. They had worked in one of the high-risk factories listed in the relevant decree.

At the start, pleural plaques were excluded from the first category but they are now included. In the beginning, only asbestos processing industries were included within the second category, but later shipyards, dockyards and facilities where insulation work was carried out were added.

QUESTION: What is ANDEVA asking for?

ANSWER: In 1998, ANDEVA welcomed the measures providing relief to some people with recognized shortened life expectancies. ANDEVA has been asking for a long time for a fairer system that would allow early retirement because of heavy occupational asbestos exposure to others with shortened life expectancies.

The existing scheme does provide rights for many workers who were heavily exposed, but excludes others. The only way to make the scheme fairer is to add a procedure that will take into account the true exposure records of individual workers. The prevention branch of workers social security has in fact all the information necessary to establish who has been heavily exposed to asbestos and who should be entitled to early retirement. Unfortunately this expertise will not be used.

September 25, 2015


1 ANDEVA. Press Release. Le gouvernement enterre la voie d’accès individuelle.
[The government buries individual access]. September 14, 2015.



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