Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Industrial Injuries Appeal - a small win can be a big deal

I posted here just over a year ago about helping out a member at an industrial injuries tribunal hearing. At that hearing they won the appeal but did not get any benefit since the tribunal deemed that their current disability was less than 14% (its a long story) which means you get nothing.

I would normally encourage a member to take advice from specialist welfare rights advisers such as Law centres or Citizen Advice. Many years ago I worked as an advisor but am now “out of date”. But (its a long story) the member did not want to seek advice from anyone else as they did not want to discuss their accident and the impact on their health with anyone else.

We had to appeal on a point of law only - so we tried to argue that the decision was perverse since it was plainly unreasonable and did not fit the facts. This was turned down by a Commissioner (Judge) who said it was not a point of law. We argued that it was a point of law. Another Commissioner reviewed this argument and agreed with the previous decision that it was not a point of law but found that the appeal tribunal had indeed “erred” in law by not explaining its decision properly and ordered a fresh tribunal appeal(hmmm - no comment).

At this rehearing the appeal was again allowed but this time the disability was assessed at 20% not 14% which meant they were eligible for benefit and it was awarded for life. So after almost 20 years finally justice is done (I told you it was a long story). The member will only receive about £28 per week (tax free but nearly £3,000 in back payment) but was really, really pleased to be getting some compensation for the decades of pain and suffering caused by a horrible accident at work.

In the trade union movement we need to wake up to industrial injury benefits. Why did it take over 15 years after returning to work for the member to realise they could claim? I suspect that every large UNISON branch in local government and health have manuel members redeployed or on permanent light duties due to industrial injuries who could be eligible for benefits. Mental health injuries caused by work is another less obvious area to think about. I will see what we can do at region but I think that all union reps ought to seriously think about whether they have members who should apply. I think most of you will have at least one.

UPDATE: in conversation this morning with Disability rights Guru, Montrose Matty, he reminded me that sufferers from work related Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) may also be eligible.


mrcentreleft said...

Glad to see you giving sound advice on these issues, real issues that matter to our members John.

We both know that the law is poor when it comes to employment rights, but without people like you campaigning in the Union AND in the Labour Party we will never see any improvement.

Still, some people would say that you are failing in your 'Revolutionary duty' by engaging in such 'Reformist' trivia as Health and Safety.

If only you sold a few more papers John.......

John Gray said...

Hi Mrcentreleft

Quite right - I have actually had one "comrade" branch secretary complain to me that all his members want to see him about is grievances and individual problems not "direct action".

mrcentreleft said...

Ha, ha, ha!!

These people never fail to amaze me! Did it not occur to him that TU's do not engage in 'Direct Action'.

.......Oh, sorry John. The Union is a vehicle simply to achieve 'the Revolution' isn't it!?.....

And there was me thinking we were their for the members.....How foolish of me....

Please forgive me John for this fundamental ideological error!?