Friday, March 21, 2008

London fight for asbestos victims

THE CONSTRUCTION union Ucatt is backing a campaign to overturn a Law Lords’ ruling that prevents the victims of asbestos-related illnesses from claiming thousands of pounds in compensation.
The campaign is also backed by Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, who attended an event at Barking Town Hall, along with union activists last week to launch a campaign to restore payments to workers exposed to dust from the Cape Asbestos factory in Harts Lane, Barking, which closed in 1968.
The campaign involves people sending postcards to justice secretary Jack Straw asking him to reintroduce payments to people suffering from scarring of the lungs, known as pleural plaques, caused by exposure to asbestos. Their protest follows a legal ruling last year that pleural plaques would no longer be a compensatable illness.
Cruddas said: “This is vital for this area. The local incidence of asbestos-related diseases is the highest in London.
Mesothelioma is the highest for women in the country and in the top 10 for men. That’s why it’s so important.
“The Law Lords’ decision has saved billions for insurance companies. It’s a working class disease of which people sitting in the Lords know very little about.”
Health statistics reveal Barking and Dagenham has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the country, and up to 25 people die from diseases associated with exposure to it every year.

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