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Members of Britain’s largest trade unions have decried endeavors by government officials to exclude the unions from participating in the process of compensation due to workers who were exposed to the deadly materials. Union workers have called the attempts “cynical, vindictive and politically motivated.” Members of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) responded fervently after reports came out that the government means to bar unions from work on accelerating compensation payments to workers and their families who are facing mesothelioma diagnoses.
Former justice secretary Jack Straw promised in February to build a group consisting of attorneys, union leaders, insurance executives, civil servants and judges to take a look at how to improve the aid payment process. However, with a new government coming to power in Britain over the summer, many promises such as these will undergo new scrutiny. The worldwide economic recession, now in its third year, will also have an impact on how and when workers will receive their much-needed compensation.
According to Morning Star, Jonathan Djanogly, the new junior Justice Minister, told MP Stephen Hepburn that his office would keep the labor unions out of the discussions. He told Parliament that government officials are presently attempting to learn more about the problem and deliberate over choices to quicken and improve the procedures with regard to mesothelioma compensation claims.
Morning Star reported, Mr. Djanogly also said that the discussions would take place between insurance company leaders, judicial representatives and solicitors for those with valid claims. Mr. Hepburn responded to the statement by saying that the exclusion of the unions “is giving more say to the insurance industry”, which he believes has been subverting the compensation process “at every opportunity”.
Alan Ritchie, the general secretary for UCATT, said that the decision to bar the labor unions from the compensation discussions was “cynical and deliberate”. He said that the exclusion was planned to guarantee that the payment process for mesothelioma victims wouldn’t be expedited. He also stated that the country’s labor unions are not concerned with “protecting profits or quibbling over points of law”.
Mr. Ritchie also said that labor unions such as UCATT would prefer to secure the compensation that mesothelioma victims need as quickly as possible. According to Mr. Ritchie, the payments would insure that mesothelioma victims would know that their families would not be left destitute after they finally succumb to the disease.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said that attorneys representing both groups of mesothelioma victims and the trade unions would be invited to participate in the meetings “as appropriate”.
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