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UCATT attacks insurance industry

Alan Richie, UCATT general secretary, has denounced the insurance industry for its attacks on asbestos victims.
Mr Ritchie today used his speech at the Labour Party Conference to launch the attack.

He was speaking in a debate, generated by UCATT, which condemns the recent attempts by the insurance industry to deny compensation to asbestos victims.
Earlier this summer the insurance industry took a case to the High Court, where it argued that the insurer at the time a person was exposed to asbestos should no longer be responsible for paying compensation.
Instead the “trigger” for compensation should be when the disease develops.
In the case of the most serious illness, the incurable lung cancer mesothelioma, the disease can take over 30 years to develop after a victims has been exposed to asbestos.

Many people have retired by the time the disease develops and therefore do not have a current insurer, UCATT argued.
The union believes that if the insurance industry is successful with this then hundreds of asbestos victims will no longer receive compensation, and the insurance industry would go on to save billions in reduced claims.
Mr Ritchie said: “Every week 40 people die of mesothelioma. It is incurable. Victims die an agonising death. It is sickening that the insurance industry wants to block their compensation.”
The issue is set to be overwhelmingly passed by conference, which will place pressure on the Government to rein in the unregulated insurance industry.
Mr Ritchie warns that if the Government does not take action against the insurance industry then it will become intent on dismantling industrial injury compensation piece by piece.
Last year the insurance industry won a case in the Law Lords which stated that pleural plaque (scarring of the lungs caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos) victims should no longer receive compensation.

The Government is now consulting on the issue following a wide-scale campaign by the unions on the issue, led by UCATT, to get the decision overturned.