slash asbestos compensation
MESOTHELIOMA sufferers and their families face massive cuts
in their compensation for the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma,
as a result of a ruling announced by the House of Lords this week.
The employers of 2 men who died of mesothelioma have won an appeal
to change the law, with the result that their widows, Sylvia Barker
and Mary Murray, will not get full compensation. Both widows have
lost an appeal mounted by their husbands’ former employers to change
the law, because their late husbands had more than 1 employer and at
least 1 of those no longer exists or was not insured.
The decision will deprive thousands of claimants of their full
entitlement to compensation for mesothelioma. The law lords’
decision follows the defeat of an attempt by insurers to end
compensation for mesothelioma sufferers altogether in test cases in
2002. The insurance industry is now likely to save 10s of millions
of pounds annually.
The legal team that represented the families includes the specialist
law firms Thompsons Solicitors and John Pickering & Partners.
One local woman whose case will be affected by the hearing is Mrs
Beryl Gray, the widow of Peter Gray who died a tragic and painful
death from mesothelioma in August 2003.
Mrs Gray, from Wirral, said today:- “I’ve had 3 years of
misery since Peter died a painful death from this terrible disease.
Employers and insurance companies care more about the money than
they do about being fair to people like me and my husband who
suffered so much. Peter didn’t want to die and he certainly didn’t
want his employers who killed him to avoid their legal
responsibility. Justice hasn’t been done.”
From 1942 to 1988, Mr Gray worked as an electrician at a number of
companies including MANWEB in Birkenhead, BNFL LTD (formerly United
Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority) at Capenhurst, and Vauxhall Motors,
Joanne Candlish, from Thompsons Solicitors in Liverpool, explains:-
"The court has, on a legal technicality which will make no
sense to anyone but the driest of lawyers, deprived our client of
full compensation for the death of her husband. The real winner here
is the insurance industry which now stands to save billions of
pounds. We will be urging Trade Unions and asbestos victim support
groups to press for legislation to counteract this massive
Sylvia Barker, 58, of Hollywell, Flintshire said:- “I’m angry
that after these people took away Vernon’s life, they are adding
insult to injury. They admitted that they should have protected him
from asbestos. I can’t understand why the House of Lords would
change the law to save them paying for what they have done.”
This important change in the law has far reaching implications:
1,800 people die each year of mesothelioma and the numbers are
rising. Many had contact with asbestos in more than one job. It is
common for employers to have ceased trading, with no trace of their
insurers. The majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma were
innocent employees who were exposed to asbestos at work without
being warned of the dangers.
SOUTHPORT FLOWER SHOW LAUNCH DAVID BELLAMY SCHOOLS COMPETITION
SOUTHPORT Flower Show has announced the launch of this year’s
David Bellamy Schools competition, involving children from around
the region in the annual four day event which this year takes place
from 17 to 20 August 2006 at Victoria Park.
Julia Humphreys, operations director for Southport Flower Show
explained:- “We are keen to make the event relevant and fun
for youngsters. This is a great opportunity to promote the
importance of flowers, gardens and nature in general to children and
to encourage creative thinking in garden design.”
The competition is open to North West primary school children, years
5 and 6 and over 200 schools have been sent entry forms. Children
are being invited to design a garden based on Southport Flower
Show’s theme for this year which is water, allowing plenty of scope
for imaginative children.
Now in its 8th year, over £1600 in prize money is on offer for the
school’s competition and the nation’s most famous botanist David
Bellamy will chair the judging panel and meet all the winning
designers. The 3 winning garden designs will be brought to life and
constructed at Southport Flower Show and the 3 winning children will
be given £500 towards their school library and be presented with a
personal gift token for £50. To encourage more children to visit the
Show, under 16’s are admitted free when accompanied by a full paying
adult, so the competition provides another opportunity for
youngsters to support their schoolmates if they reach the final,
whilst also enjoying Southport Flower Show’s family attractions that
include street entertainers, dog displays and face-painting!
The closing date for entries for the schools competition is Friday 2
June 2006. If you would like an entry form please contact Southport
Flower Show office on 01704 547147 or visit
BRITAIN TO LEAD THE
WORLD IN WORK REVOLUTION
JUST as Britain led the way with industrialisation in the
19th century, we are looking to lead the world in changing the work
culture in the 21st. An initiative which aims to make the UK
the most progressive economy in the world was launched at the QEII
Conference Centre in London.
Called Work Wise UK, the initiative will encourage the widespread
adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working,
remote working, mobile working and working from home. Adopting this
modern day approach to working lives will increase business
productivity and competitiveness, reduce transport congestion and
pollution, improve health, assist disadvantaged groups, and
harmonise our work and family commitments.
Meg Munn MP, DTI Minister for Women and Equality, said:-
“Smarter working should be integral in a modern economy. It
increases productivity, competitiveness and helps our economy
perform better in the global marketplace. It also helps people – it
enables us to lead more fulfilled lives – having greater choice
about how we balance our work with our family commitments. These
flexible work practices benefit us all.”
An increasingly complex world means that employers and employees
have to strive to use their resources effectively; the one to gain
better productivity, the other to balance work-life pressures.
CBI Director-General, Sir Digby Jones, who spoke at the Work Wise
summit, said:- “Flexible, smarter working is here to stay.
Nine out of ten requests from staff to work flexibly have been
accepted by employers and the UK leads the rest of Europe in numbers
of part-time workers. New technologies will help more people in the
future to ‘telework’ from home or on the move. These
new ways of working have benefits for companies seeking to recruit,
motivate and retain valued staff and for employees who have hectic
or demanding lives. More flexible working benefits the economy
through higher productivity and reduced transport pressure.
The challenge for us all is to strike the right balance - both in
and outside of work - and achieve the maximum flexibility whilst
still meeting the needs of our businesses and customers.”
It is recognised that the UK workforce is now among the hardest
working in the world, an amazing transformation since the 1970s when
the country was viewed as the “sick man of Europe”. Today,
this work ethic results in the UK average working week being among
the longest in Europe.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, also speaking at the summit,
was keen to see working hours reduced through smarter working:-
"Our long hours culture is damaging the UK's productivity
prospects. British men work the longest hours in Europe and this
isn't helping their firms become more productive, nor is it good for
the health of these long hours employees or the happiness of their
families. The attitude of employers is the biggest barrier we face
to a better work/life balance. Unfortunately too few employers have
yet to grasp the concept that flexible working not only makes for
sound business sense but is also good news for overworked
individuals. With statistics showing that only 1 in 7 UK
employees is able to work from home occasionally and just 1 in 10 is
allowed to work flexibly, we still have a long, long way to go
before a decent work/life balance can be achieved by everyone at
work. Those employers who have been bold enough to embrace
flexibility are more likely to recruit and retain staff and are less
likely to suffer from high levels of staff absence. A more flexible
approach to work is the direction in which we want to be going and I
call on the UK's employers to work with unions and the Government to
make Britain a better, more productive place to work."
The advantages of an improved work-life balance are well-documented,
and although the UK is embracing smarter working practices, there is
a huge scope for improvement. Currently, there are 5.4 million
employees who work through some kind of flexible working agreement,
of which 2.2 million are men and 3.2 million are women (Labour Force
Survey, Autumn 2005). Of these totals, 3.3 million work from home in
some form (LFS Microdata Service).
“Work Wise UK will accelerate the change in working practices
towards a culture that helps balance work and life commitments,”
said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the IT Forum Foundation, the
organiser of Work Wise UK, which was established in 1983 as a
not-for-profit undertaking. “Work Wise UK is about
changing working culture for the better, changing the way people
work, giving them the skills to work smarter, to work more
efficiently,” he said.
Meg Munn MP continued:- “We’ve seen evidence that flexible
working is making a difference to people’s lives. But to really
change the way we work and maximise the benefits for everyone, we
need to encourage the widespread adoption of smarter working
The start of Work Wise UK involves a period of discussions and
planning, led by the CBI and TUC, on how to deliver the vision of up
to half the working population working smarter by the end of the
decade. This consultation will culminate with the publication of a
concordat – a document with across-the-board support which details
the vision and how it will be achieved.
Work Wise Week (3 to 9 May) will mark the start of the 3-year Work
Wise UK programme during which it is hoped many thousands of
companies and organisations will sign-up to the concordat and
implement smarter working practices to the benefit of their
business, their employees, and the country as a whole.
Further information about Work Wise Week and Work Wise UK can be