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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Cancer damages lawsuit hopes
National Semiconductor at Greenock
A group of workers from Greenock are pursuing a claim
Microchip workers involved in a damages claim hope a lawsuit against electronics company IBM in the United States could strengthen their case.

Workers in the company's microchip manufacturing plants are claiming they have been exposed to thousands of cancer-causing chemicals but IBM has denied the allegations.

The multi-million dollar legal battle is being followed by those who have worked in similar factories in Scotland.

One group, from the National Semiconductor plant in Greenock, has already raised an action and believes that the IBM case could strengthen their hand.

I don't want to raise the group's hopes too much, but it will take us a lot further forward if the cases come out in our favour
Jim McCourt
Phase Two
Campaigning body Phase Two represents 37 former workers at the plant who are pursuing damages through the courts.

It claims the workers and their children suffered cancers and reproductive problems as a result of making silicon chips.

Spokesman Jim McCourt believes the case in California could be vital for Scottish claims.

"It will be ground-breaking stuff, there's never been a semiconductor company in court at any time for something of this magnitude," said Mr McCourt.

"The pressure group, the regulatory bodies and the industry will be watching this with great interest.

Further research

"If the case is a success then it will be another weapon that Phase Two can use, I don't want to raise the group's hopes too much, but it will take us a lot further forward if the cases come out in our favour."

In 2001, higher than average rates of cancer were found among workers and former employees at the National Semiconductor plant in a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

But the HSE said the results were inconclusive and that more research was needed.

It is currently in negotiation with National Semiconductor in Greenock to carry out a follow-up survey on potential health risks to their employees.

BBC Scotland's Neil Mudie
"The company has turned out legal big guns"

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