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Flower Auction FloraHolland’s technical services employees have been exposed to asbestos for years. Employees are sometimes entrusted with hard work such as drilling holes, and found asbestos plates at the Flora Holland company building in Aalsmeer. According to the Amsterdam District Court, this means the company has acted illegally. If one of the workers involved becomes ill, the company should handle appropriate compensation.

In its ruling, the court noted that FloraHolland already knew in 1990 that materials containing asbestos were present in the building. But it wasn’t until around 2009 that the company began issuing warnings and instructions to employees on how to respond, according to a statement. According to FNV, the same work that has been done without protection for years is now only done when employees wear special protective clothing.

Asbestos-related illnesses may take 30 to 40 years to appear, so it can take a long time to develop. “At the moment, at least as far as we know, the disease has not occurred, but if it did, it would be clear beforehand that there was exposure,” explained FNV union leader Jeroen Brandenburg.

Nonetheless, the trade union’s occupational disease division has decided to file a lawsuit on behalf of about 15 employees after the job of managing and maintaining Flora Holland’s stores was transferred to real estate firm CBRE several years ago. According to Brandenburg, the ruling would prevent those who have fallen ill from having to initiate complex legal proceedings for compensation later on.

A spokeswoman for FloraHolland said Tuesday night it could not immediately respond to the ruling. The company still has the option to appeal.

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