Fight continues for Pleural Plaques sufferers right to compensation
Irwin Mitchell Asbestos Team's Caroline Pinfold and Keith Hague joined hundreds of members of asbestos victim support groups and members of the GMB, UCATT and other trades unions at a rally and meeting in Westminster on 29 January to support the lobbying of MPs for sufferers of asbestos pleural plaques who have been denied compensation since the House of Lords Decision in October 2007.
After a demonstration on College Green, supporters moved to a committee room where they were addressed by MPs including Michael Clapham, Ron Brown, Jim Shephard and John Crudas. The meeting was chaired by GMB sponsored MP.
Dr Robin Rudd told how it was incorrect to say that people diagnosed as suffering from asbestos pleural plaques had suffered no harm. He described the intense anxiety that is caused by being told that they have this condition amongst workers who will know that many of their colleagues, friends and relatives have gone on to develop asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. Amongst laggers who have been heavily exposed to asbestos dust at a young age the risk of mesothelioma can be as high as 15% for those who have been diagnosed with pleural plaques. They suffer anxiety over a prolonged period whilst they wait for the results of X-rays and then further scans. He mentioned the fact that insurers have fought to deny pleural plaque sufferers compensation on the basis that they have not suffered any damage, but yet will increase the life insurance premiums for those sufferers because of the risk to their health from this condition.
Dr Raj Menon also told of the intense anxiety suffered by pleural plaque sufferers, and of the vulnerable ones who become clinically depressed on being diagnosed. The meeting was shocked to learn that one GMB member who was relatively young had committed suicide after being diagnosed with pleural plaques.
Many members of the Dagenham and Liverpool Heat & Frost branches of the GMB attended the meeting. Of 58 members of the Dagenham Branch who had claimed compensation for pleural plaques, 27 have since died of asbestos diseases. Members called on the MPs present to act to redress the injustice and not just voice their support.
The meeting heard that the Scottish Parliament is committed to change the law to make asbestos pleural plaques by definition a condition that is compensatable. It was agreed that it would not be acceptable for there to be compensation for this in Scotland yet none in England or Wales.
Dennis Skinner MP pledged to make the Prime Minister act to redress the injustice suffered by working people who had been caused harm simply by going to work, when he is at the Labour NEC next week.