Labour Research December 2009

Health & Safety Matters

Pleural plaques dismay

Unions will continue to campaign for compensation on pleural plaques, despite recent missed opportunities by the government to tackle the issue.

They were disappointed that a private members bill ran out of parliamentary time last month. The bill proposed by Andrew Dismore had gone through the House of Commons, but managed only one reading in the House of Lords before the end of the parliamentary session. The bill would have returned the right to compensation to pleural plaques’ victims denied by the Law Lords ruling in October 2007.

Last October, the Unite and GMB general unions along with the UCATT construction union held a lobby of parliament on the matter. Although Gordon Brown told the House of Commons it was very important “that we get a resolution soon” on pleural plaques, the Ministry of Justice has yet to come forward with the results of its consultation on the issue. The prime minister discussed the issue privately with MPs in November, but without resolution.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said the government had messed around long enough. “It is time it recognised that working people, who have been exposed to asbestos and are suffering from pleural plaques, have the right to be treated equitably across the UK.

“It is inexcusable that sick workers are being denied the dignity of proper compensation for being made ill by their employers.”