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  Issue No 8 Official Organ of LaborNet 09 April 1999  

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International

Compo Search for UK Coal Miners


An international search is on for former coal miners who worked mines in England and Wales from 1954 and have since suffered from chest disease.

The UK Government has agreed to pay compensation running into billions of pounds following successful court action against them alleging negligent management of dust levels in the mines.

To date 60,000 ex-miners have come forward in the UK but the Department of Trade and Industry have revealed that they assess that the true total is around 100,000.

So where are the missing 40,000?

Many will have emigrated to Australia either to work down Australian mines or more recently for retirement with their families. Some will have passed away by now but, nevertheless, the monies are available, in certain cases, to their widows and families.

Time Limits apply and anyone wishing to claim must come forward now else to avoid losing their right to claim.

The case was brought originally on behalf of around 120 miners against the UK Government, responsible for the former nationalised coal industry. Six test cases were successful at trial last year in a judgment scathingly critical of the lack of care of British Coal for the health o f their employees. The UK Government readily conceded not to appeal and confirmed that they would pay compensation to all other miners whose cases came within the criteria set out by the judge.

Following lengthy negotiations, a settlement was finally reached and announced to the court on Friday the 26the March 1999.

Australia is already playing a major role in this compensation scheme in that the company contracted to undertake first stage medical screening of claimants, Healthcall, has recruited technicians from Australia to travel over to the UK to undertake this work.

Graham Ross of UK solicitors, Ross & Co, of the Wirral, Cheshire, a member of the six firm National Steering Committee which led the litigation on behalf of all claimants and negotiated this ground breaking settlement, was recently contacted on the Internet by a former miner who emigrated to Australia to work down the mines in NSW. As a result, Ross has now set up special arrangements with a team of doctors to medically screen claimants in Australia and is calling for other claimants in Australia to register before it is too late.

Graham Ross says:" To qualify for compensation, claimants must have worked down the mines for a period of at least five years from July 1954 and suffer from emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

"There are two stages to the scheme. The first stage will involve a small speedy payment without detailed investigation other than spirometry testing. That payment will be up to £5,000. If that offer is rejected, then more detailed examination of each claim is undertaken with the claimant being examined by a chest consultant and various factors, such as smoking habits, levels of dust exposure, etc being taken into account. This stage can award compensation up to £50,000.

"Processing of the claim, even if unsuccessful, will be at no legal cost whatsoever to the claimant.

Ross's firm ha also set up a special scheme with the doctors for pre-assessing cases before the time for accepting stage 1 offers elapses.

Ross explains " Stage 1 assessments will be based a simple spirometry test that will lead, in most cases, to an early low side offer. The claimant will have a short period of time within which to accept or reject that offer. If he rejects it, then he can move on to the second stage which will involve a more detailed examination of his medical records and examination by a medical expert. He will, however, have no guarantee, that the detailed assessment will qualify him for larger payments than offered under the first stage. There is a danger that more detailed examination, which, for example, may heavily reduce compensation for individual reasons such as smoking habits, may result in a lower offer than previously made and rejected.

"The risk of a claimant making a bad 'call' on the stage one offer can be reduced if the claimant is able to obtain advice that will help predict the stage two offer in advance of the first offer.

"For this reason we have set up a special pre-assessment protocol with a team of doctors who have already spent a lot of time in examining the complex medical issues in these cases and in particular the criteria adopted by the trial judge in last year's successful test cases, by which the stage two offers are to be assessed. This will ensure that our clients have as much information as possible as to how their claims are likely to be assessed under Stage 2 before they obtain their offers under Stage 1.

All ex-miners and widows can register by calling UK on +44 151 336 3000 or by sending email to the address below.


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*   Issue 8 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: John Coombs - The Mouse Who Roared
We talk to the man who stood firm in the face of the federal government’s all out assault on the waterfront 12 months ago.
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*  Unions: The Waterfront One Year On
One year after what was arguably the biggest Australian industrial dispute in living memory and the Maritime Union of Australia is STILL Here to Stay.
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*  History: Walsh Bay Wharves : Space and Place
For historians looking at a historic structure or site like the Walsh Bay wharves, there is a big difference between 'space' and 'place'.
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*  International: Compo Search for UK Coal Miners
An international search is on for former coal miners who worked mines in England and Wales from 1954 and have since suffered from chest disease.
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*  Review: War on the Wharves
Some of the most honest reporting of the waterfront dispute came from the pens of the nation's cartoonists.
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News
»  Angry Geeks Down Mouses in Industry First
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»  Patrick dispute commemorated
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»  Costa Pushes Social Audit Plan
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»  Currawong: Majority Support But Veto Rule the Hurdle
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»  A Firey Call: Give Currawong Back To The Unions
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»  ACTU Braces for Reith’s Second Wave
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»  Gordonstone Miners Come to Town
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»  Women Take the Fight to Rio’s Front Door
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»  Sydney Solictor Appointed ICTUR Secretary
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Columns
»  Guest Report
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»  Sport
*
»  Trades Hall
*
»  Piers Watch
*

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