Minutes of a meeting between the voluntary sector and institutions Regional Council in Trieste, Monday, April 28th , 2014.

Sergio Sghedoni

The EARA, in collaboration with the Regional Council’s Bureau of Friuli Venezia Giulia and the III Regional Commission for Health, organized a press conference on Monday, April 28th, 2014. EARA invited the other two regional association of exposed to asbestos – ‘AeA’ Amianto mai Più (Monfalcone), and AeA FVG (Trieste) – who joined in the initiative. The event took place in the afternoon at the Blue Hall (Sala Azzurra) of the Council, with the participation of dr. Rotelli, President of the III Commission, his deputy Mrs. Renata Bagatin and some councillors. A report was realized by journalist Nada ?ok (Regional RAI Radio broadcast), and by two other journalists, one of the local newspaper ‘Il Piccolo’ and the other of the local Television ‘Telequattro’. At the press conference were present – by the way – a delegation from Trade Union CGIL, Sabrina Morena (art director and provincial councillor), Renzo Simoni (Prevention and Safety on Workplaces / ASS. N . 1), and Cpt. Antonio Nobile of Shipmen’s Trade Union USCLAC. Six were the members of EARA there: President Paolo Tomatis, Vice-President Claudio Dreossi, the secretary Renato Milazzi, advisers Albano Maruši? and Gianni Menegazzi, and the representative in the regional Asbestos Commission, Roberto Fonda.

After the interview with Mrs. ?ok, EARA’s re-elected president Paolo Tomatis opened the meeting thanking the Regional Council and the III Commission for actively collaborating to the organization of this important annual event, the World Day for the Victims of Asbestos. “ We must not only take a look at things closer to us – said Tomatis – but need to expand our horizons and act at a national and cross border level. Thanks to the European Union, which also benefits our association, we are working on a Leonardo da Vinci project, the ABClean (Making the world clean of asbestos) with Spanish, Finnish, Lithuanian, Polish, Belgian and English partnerships, in order to create a professional figure who can recognize and address the potential hazards associated with the presence of asbestos in the workplaces.” Tomatis proposed to set up a Regional plan for asbestos, bearing in mind that Friuli Venezia Giulia, thanks to its special statute, has a degree of autonomy which can permit her to adopt one’s own, since the national plan of former minister Balduzzi (Monti Government) is still struck in State-Regions Conference. Tomatis considered that EARA could take advantage of Horizon European Funds 2014-2020 for Environment, with projects aimed – for example – to the replacement of old asbestos roofs with photovoltaic panels.

The assessor for Environment of Monfalcone’s Municipality, arch. Walter Pin, emphasized what his body has done in recent years for the promotion and protection of the territory, agreeing with Tomatis to take the opportunity in exploiting European funds for the carrying out of environmental policies using the most recent technological innovation and adequate know-how. Pin took the chance to present the conference ‘The life end of asbestos’, which will be held in Monfalcone on Tuesday, May 6th and will be attended by important personalities from business, academic and scientific world, as well as institutional representatives.

Chiara Paternoster, legal adviser for AeA ‘Asbestos never again-Amianto mai più’ Monfalcone, present with secretary Diego Dotto, said that “...today in Gorizia the second and third part of the Fincantieri trial has started, and we complain ourselves because the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region will not carry out any civil action, on the opposite of the Monfalcone Municipality. It will be up to our association to reinvest the claim for specific projects against asbestos.” For Paternoster it’s also vital to make information on the asbestos problem, and support a proper psychological care for the former exposed workers and their families. “ The answers to specific problems – she concluded – are too often left in the hands of volunteers

President of AeA FVG, Aurelio Pischianz, thanked Tomatis for the invitation to the IX International Day for the Victims of Asbestos in the Regional Council. After informing that his association gives free assistance just by applying to the Asbestos ATM in AeA’s seat, Pischianz stated that “…victims and their families are in need of justice, because, for example, the so-called retired workers ‘Ante 1992’ (the year of the approval of Law 257, which banned the production, marketing and use of asbestos on the whole national territory), are buried in ‘authorized dumps’, ie cemeteries.” For Pischianz, an idea to compensate exposed would be to use European funds. At the end of his speech, he announced an event, a new edition of the conference organized by AeA FVG in Trieste last year at Stazione Marittima Congress Centre on scientific and medical research.

Immediately after Mr. Pischianz, the vice-president of AeA FVG Santina Pasutto, widow of Roberto Persich, municipal employee who died some years ago for pleural mesothelioma after four surgeries, intervened saying that “…those ones were three terrible years, and I want to bring my experience to the widows of asbestos victims and support them. As women, we were left alone, no one helped us to address the problem, so we ask more protection, especially from institutions. It is very positive that our three organizations work together

Captain Antonino Nobile of Maritime Trade Union USCLAC, attended the meeting, highlighted with emphasis (unappreciated by the political representatives) the fact that his category is the one who has given the most in terms of human lives and entitled to the retirement without benefits, therefore forcing seamen to take legal action against the State, however paying considerable sums of money in advance to address its costs. Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Health and Social Policies assessor, Mrs. Telesca, in this regard, has not yet answered to a request of encounter forwarded last year, complaining openly about this behaviour.

Franco Rotelli, President of the III Regional Commission for Health, thanked everybody, especially the associations of exposed. “ I share your considerations and accept your solicitations – he said – but my commission has only advisory powers. I renew the invitation to the three associations to cooperate with each other and we will all carry on a joint effort to pursue a concrete operative program.” Rotelli considered the intervention of Cpt. Nobile inappropriate, as the Regional council guided by President Serracchiani became operative just last year, so it would be better for him to give judgements at the end of the mandate, telling to be patient if there has still not been a chance for assessor Telesca to fix him an appointment. He invited Nobile to bring all the documents in his possession to the III Commission.

President Tomatis, although agreeing with Cpt. Nobile, remarked that the press conference organized by EARA is basically for the three associations, and there is a regional Commission for Asbestos which will begin to work on May 22nd in Monfalcone and can be contacted also for those reasons, so every controversy at this moment is totally out of order.

After having expressed sympathy and solidarity with Mrs. Pasutto, Roberto Fonda, EARA’s member in the aforesaid Asbestos Commission, remembering his friend and EARA co-founder Mr. Paolo Hikel, who is battling against mesothelioma, said that there will be a representative for each association. “ I am very satisfied for the change of attitude from the political point of view by the Regional Council. We are all carriers of the true interests of all the exposed people and their families, and face the future with hope. We were not born to quarrel against institutions, but to cooperate with them. The time has come, forgetting old grievances and misunderstandings, to work together. The new Commission, for this reason, provides an opportunity to be exploited

“ I have already talked about this in III Commission (since I’m its Vice President) on last September – said Regional Councillor Renata Bagatin – I agree that the three associations have to cooperate with each other, as they will have to deal with the Regional Departments for Health and the Environment

At the end of the speeches, President Tomatis established that the three associations together will ask Regione autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia:

– to adopt a Regional Asbestos Plan like former Minister Balduzzi’s one;

– if there are regional funds in the current year for scientific and medical research related to asbestos issues.

The proposals of Tomatis were greeted positively by the present, with the promise, at the end of the meeting, to see each others again as soon as possible.

Minutes of a meeting between the voluntary sector and institutions Regional Council in Trieste, Monday, April 28th , 2014 .