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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 06:45 GMT
Payouts for miners' claims rise
Miners
Around 60,000 Welsh miners have so far made claims
Almost 400m has been paid to ex-miners and their families in Wales whose health suffered as a result of working underground.

A total of 284m has been paid out for respiratory claims and another 103m for vibration white finger, which is caused by the continuous use of vibrating hand machinery.

But, as the March deadline for claims nears, union officials say there are still thousands in Wales who could apply for compensation.

Don Touhig, the Wales Office Minister who chairs the Welsh monitoring group, announced the latest figures ahead of its meeting in Cardiff on Monday.

"In total, 35,000 claims have been settled under the two schemes in Wales in what is the biggest civil compensation scheme ever in the world," he said.

"Our priority is and has been to pay compensation to the oldest miners, those most ill and the widows.

"I am glad to say that the overwhelming majority of these people have now received offers."

Using machinery underground could have caused vibration white finger
Using machinery underground could have caused vibration white finger

He said numbers of claims had recently increased as the final deadline approaches - in one week last month there were 3,500 claims.

Bleddyn Hancock, Wales secretary of the union Nacods, welcomed news of the payouts made so far but said there were an estimated 100,000 possible claims yet to be made.

"As of 30 November, only 59,000 cases for chest diseases had been made in Wales," he said.

It is almost six years since a landmark legal ruling opened the way for miners and their relatives to claim compensation for chest diseases suffered as a result of working in the pits.

The deadline for respiratory claims under the present arrangement is 31 March.

"There are still a lot of people out there who could claim - children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces - and we urge them to come forward," Mr Hancock said.

Disputed claims

He said it was "scandalous" that thousands of colliery surface workers were not being included in the present compensation agreement.

"We know that many of the people who worked on the surface have died from pneumoconiosis but, under the existing arrangements, they are entitled to nothing," he added.

Mr Hancock also questioned why a Vibration Reference Panel set up in 2002 has so far not met to deal with any of the disputed claims, several thousands of which were in Wales.

Of nearly 21,000 claims for vibration white finger compensation, just over half of them had been settled.

The deadline for making claims for the condition suffered as a result of working with industrial tools passed last March.




SEE ALSO:
Miners' 300m compensation
16 Jun 03  |  Wales
Ex-miners' death toll revealed
28 Jan 02  |  Wales


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