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Chronic Bronchitis - Blair's Mining Disaster

 

We are frequently told "the old working class" doesn't exist anymore, and this is Illustrated by the decimation of the coal industry, with the loss of more than 250,000 jobs in the last 25 years and the destruction of whole coalfields and most collieries. Only 19 remain throughout the island, and there future is bleak. (The latest government sponsored report predicts the end of mining in Britain within five or six years.)

But where did that "old working class" go to ? They weren't shipped off to gas chambers, though doubtless Thatcher would have enjoyed that. The pit communities, minus the actual pit, and everywhere beleaguered and under siege by poverty, deprivation, hopelessness and antisocial crime, still exist. The folk within those communities remain, working class, often highly class conscious and fully aware of a social system which has robbed them and abused them for centuries.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the issue of lung diseases, caused by coal and stone dust, it has destroyed an army of men, and probably, though still unproved women in the pit community too. (There is an excess mortality rate for Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, among women in pit communities of around 50% )

Two centuries ago they were telling us coal dust was "natural" it came from trees and was organic and couldn't be alien to the human system. As machine mining increased so the death toll rose. As the miners union struggled to claim compensation for ever increasing numbers of stricken miners the medical profession fell in behind the coal owners who often employed them or patronised them. The miners lung disease was not pneumoconiosis which was compensable but chronic bronchitis and / or emphysema which was not. As often as not the family of the miners would have to wait until the miners died and an autopsy revealed the extent of coal dust penetration of his lungs before compensation, measly though it was, was recovered.

After years of medical argument, and after most mining countries in the world had long ago recognised it, chronic bronchitis and emphysema were finally recognised in 1993 as industrial diseases, for state benefit purposes but NOT as had happened abroad in its own right. To qualify you needed 20 years underground, without exception. So if you had 19 years underground and became afflicted with the disease and hospitalised for the final year of your life before dying of the condition, to the DSS you didn't have it, choose what the medical profession said on this occasion.

Next you had to have simple pneumoconiosis as well , and this of course was to be demonstrated by x-rays. Category one pneumoconiosis is extremely hard to see on X-ray, and in any case the Chronic Bronchitis can obscure it, and the emphysema causing the lungs to shred and disintegrate under the impact of constant irritation and coughing tended to disperse and loose the dust particles after they had done the damage. Once more we were faced with the crime of having to wait until the miner died, often in excruciating pain and suffocation, before the autopsy revealed the presence of pneumoconiosis, contrary to the X-ray evidence, cat 1 or 2.

What happens next, is one of the most glaring injustices of modern times. I go to a Fresh Evidence Medical Board on behalf of the families, the Dr agrees yes the man did have Cat 1 or Cat 2 pneumoconiosis, which was found on Macro examination and under histology (microscopic research). BUT the regulations say it has to be found on X-ray examination, i.e. a scientific guess from the outside of the body. Come On ! You tell yourself this isn't the 19th Century, such blatant class injustice is a figment of anarcho-paronioa, this is some fool doddery old Dr who has dropped a bollock. So I take the cases to the Medical Appeal Tribunal, they too make the same judgment. I then appeal the question to the Social Security Commissioner in London, and argue that the requirement is for the presence of pneumoconiosis. Obviously the only test for that during life is an X-ray and that is why it is mentioned. After death, there is a clear none contradictable test, the pathologist takes out and looks at the lung, feels the dust with her fingers, cuts a piece out and looks at it down a microscope and can see it. The presence of the dust is the requirement, not the means of establishing it, which is a simple administrative device and not a requirement in itself. The Commissioner in his lordly wisdom announces that my logic is impeccable, but that the regulation is that the dust can only be found by X-ray and not by any other means, where pneumoconiosis is discovered by autopsy it is deemed NOT to exist because it wasn't earlier found by X-ray !

(In 1997 the regulations were changed so that new cases didn't require the presence of pneumoconiosis, cases arising before that time would not however be retrospectively reviewed. The 20 year requirement has been modified to allow for "months" of illness caused by the presence of the disease, so the more ill you were, the less chance you have of getting round the 20 year rule).

The final requirement is that there be an FEV loss of 1 ltr. equivalent on the Cotes formula. Basically you have to have lost a quarter of your lungs capacity to breath in and out.

This test was included for the sole purpose of taking something like 70,000 miners out of entitlement to the benefit, it is as crude as that. The FEV test is supposed to test the miners lung capacity against an average none miner of equal weight and size. Problem is the test samples were done on the average population of the 1940ís and 50ís when people in general had suffered at least one world war, some had been exposed to gas in the first, nearly everybody smoked and the cities were blighted with smog which killed sizeable chunks of the population. Your average citizen in them days was far more unhealthy than the average citizen of today, so the test provides not a comparison with the population of today but those of 50 years ago, so the miner has to be almost 100% less healthy than the average person rather than 50% as is supposedly required. The test is a sham.

The change of government, has made not the slightest difference to the continuing slaughter or the rip off of the miners and their families.

After 12 years of legal action against the NCB, in the longest running and most expensive legal claim in the world, the miners finally proved that they were liable. New Labour in opposition promised "Justice for the miners". Last year alone 16,000 miners died from chronic bronchitis and emphysema, a mining disaster so vast, that had it happened underground in rock falls or explosions would generate an outcry. Instead it happens in the miners own home, in private, away from the interest of the media or the politicians. 100,000 claims were registered against the Coal Board, now represented by the DTI.

Justice, Like Hell ! True to Blairís Tory roots they refused point blank to sit down with the Miners Union who represents 90% of all miners working or retired and work out a compensation scheme. The NUM is Blairís class enemy and turned instead to an alliance of Lawyers nation-wide to draw up a scheme, it is fraught with injustice and legal and technical somersaults aimed at robbing the miners of any claim. Despite the announcement that £2B is set aside to meet the claims and settlements were around £50,000 with the press crowing about "massive payouts", the reality is different. Only 1500 men out of the 100,000 victims have been paid out. The average I encounter is £5000 with £3000 being a typical sum. Men like my old work mate Benny Marks, 46 years a face worker in blinding blizzards of dust shovelling rock and coal, is awarded £1200 ! For a disease almost certain to be fatal. Why settle ? Because you have twice as much chance of dying as being paid out before you do.

( Exception to prove the rule ONE man has been awarded the maximum £60,000 payment )

Many solicitors are urging men to take what's on offer or they might not get anything. Other men who worked at pits which were closed and the work records destroyed are told they cannot claim at all because there is no record on them being underground, despite long service awards, union membership records and a Miners Pension.

The required Spirometer test was supposed to be less severe than the DSS one, in reality it is more harsh. Old miners are bullied and yelled at and told to blow harder, that they are faking, that the test is not being complied with. Drís at these centres having been described as "Naziís" by men who have not the physical strength or lung capacity to blow at the fierce rate demanded by the test. Whereas before , the scam was to say the miner didn't have the compensable pneumoconiosis he had the non-compensatable Chronic Bronchitis, or Emphysema, now the man is told he doesn't have CB&E which is compensable he has asthma which isn't. This is despite having 80 % or 90% awards from the already stringent DSS FEV test.

( Asthma itself is another injustice, despite exposure to coal dust, stone dust, asbestos, shot firing fumes, diesel fumes, methane, monoxide, sulphur, nitrates and heavy metals and toxic oils, the Commissioners decided the lethal combination did not cause asthma, it merely made it worse so there is no entitlement to Industrial Injuries Benefits. )

Vultures and Cowboys Bloodsucking Lawyers

Because the government has blocked the involvement of the NUM as a national force and farmed out and encouraged claimants to sink their lot in with private legal firms, the miners or their widows find that the pathetic bit of compensation is further eaten into by these bloodsuckers. 25% they take from victims, even the £2000 interim payment paid to miners with a prima-facie case so they have something before they die, or to widow at the time she most needs financial assistance, the law firm will nonetheless take £500 of her money. Such firms have run nation-wide adverts, even been given free adverts on BBC and ITV for their ĎNo Win No Fee;í schemes. Despite their legal requirement to give claimants the best advice available, they refuse to pass the claimants back to the NUM or NACODS the mining unions which charge either nothing at all or a small administration charge, so they plunder the victims pathetic compensation .The sums are pathetic, when comparing the dying miners £5000 with the London Executive who in DEC 99 was awarded £1 million compensation for sex discrimination, or even the Humberside cop who got £190,000 compensation because her colleagues had "hurt her feelings". The class bias couldn't be more clear but there is more and its getting worse.

Disablement Benefit, Reduced Earnings Allowance & Disability Living Allowance.

If you succeeded in getting the award, obviously you were never going to get better. The awards were made for life. You would continue to receive your Disablement Benefit depending on the degree of you disability. Men who were dying received £80 a week or more. Because your condition had stopped you working and gave you a lower income you were entitled to Reduced Earnings Allowance of £42 per week again for life. Under the entitlement to Disability Living Allowance, or Attendance Allowance , because of your disability (or combination of disabilities, since most miners have more than one industrial disease) you were entitled to a small payment because you were unable to make yourself a hot meal.

Now both this Tory Government like the last Tory government has decided that when you get to 65 "your life" is over. The Dis-Ben and REA are reduced to a measly £10 per week Retirement Allowance, while the Hot Meal provision is withdrawn altogether when you get to 65. At 65 they conclude they cant exploit you anymore so you aren't entitled to a hot meal.

Posthumous appeals, fresh evidence reviews.

Last in the long saga of injustice is the right to a fresh evidence appeal or review.

Suppose a miner claimed for pneumoconiosis back in 1979, the NCB X-rays had told him he had "a little dust not enough to claim". The DSS likewise tell him he has no dust all. He leaves the pits in 1985 and in 1990 he dies . At autopsy we discover he is riddled with pneumoconiosis, he has PMF (Progressive Massive Fibrosis, the highest level of the disease) which is cavitating. He has not been exposed to dust since 85, although we know he had some in 79. Previously I would have applied for a Fresh Evidence Appeal or Review, on the basis that new evidence (the mans death and autopsy report) proved the earlier decision that he didn't have it was wrong. Where I was able to prove this, the DSS would make a finding that the man had in fact been suffering from the condition back to 79 or perhaps 85 depending on the evidence. ALL of those benefits to which the man would have been entitled are then paid to his widow or his estate. After all he had been entitled to them all along but was deprived by a wrong DSS judgement clearly demonstrated after death.

Suppose the man hadn't been advised by Drs or anybody else he had pneumo and hadn't made an application. We could apply posthumously, and again the same posthumous evidence presented. The Benefit would be paid back to the date of onset of the disease as established by a posthumous review of the medical evidence and all the benefit back paid.

Robbing The Dead

Both Governments have steadily been eating away at this right. Firstly they restricted the period of back claim to 12 months, then 3 months and now 1 month. However a loop hole still exists where we seek to review decisions which were made prior to the change of legislation, they can still be paid back to date of onset.

Recent evidence suggests Blair is now to abolish the right to fresh evidence and posthumous reviews and appeals altogether ! As part of his crusade against welfare benefits in general he is now prepared to attack and plunder the dead miners and their widows. No legal authority exists to do this yet, but our spies on the BA Tell us all recent applications are on hold and are not being actioned because they are expected word that Blair and his henchmen are to stop the appeals altogether.

Yet another sorry page in the class justice dispensed to miners and their families.

"The Old Working Class" is fully conscious of the system which oppressed and oppresses it. "The New Working Class" is currently learning the self same lesson.

Despite all the difficulties described above it is still essential miners and their families continue to pursue cases against the BA and the former NCB employers or current Private coal owners. People can contact me for advice.

UPDATE 1

This is a copy of a letter wrote by Dave Douglass to Mr Hain MP

C/O 16, Abbeyfield Road, Dunscroft
Doncaster, DN7 4AF
28/3/2001

Dear Mr Hain

I have read statements from you and your Dept about addressing the injustices endured by miners and their widows as a result of mining lung diseases and the compensation systems. There appears to be some shuffling of the pack and making the best of a bad job but no radical intervention to actually change the system itself, especially the dilemma of the spirometer test itself. This test as you will know if you have undertaken it ( if not you should) is very vigorous and requires substantial breath control and hard physical exertion, something which most mineworkers especially older face workers have neither of. The irony is the poorer your state of health and the more weakened and damaged your lungs, the less likely is a successful reading on this test. Nobody seems prepared to abolish the tyranny of this test which of itself causes much ill health and pain and discomfort, maybe contributing to worse in some cases I have seen.

However the main reason I am writing to you is to draw your attention to the provisions of the 1997 regulations relating to disablement benefit claims. The effect of this provision on deceased mineworkers and their families is to rob them of Disablement Benefit awards they would otherwise have been entitled to.

Take a man who is unaware that he has pneumoconiosis, or chronic bronchitis and emphysema for whatever reasons, who dies and is subsequently found to have either or both of these diseases, and clearly they are caused by work in mining. In all respects if he were alive and made this discovery would be able to claim and receive benefits. In earlier times and under the previous government one could claim for these conditions retrospectively, i.e. back to the date of onset, whatever the Medical Board / and or MAT agreed that was. In the case of posthumous claims or posthumous appeals this would seem common justice. A man may have tried several times to claim for either of the conditions and been told he didn't have them. After death and autopsy inspection of the lung against the background of his work history would demonstrate he had the condition all along, that the DSS medical had been in error. A posthumous appeal if successful seen the back payments of his benefits to which he should have enjoyed paid to his widow or family. The same was true of posthumous applications. Then someone changed the law, firstly to restrict back payments to 12 months, then three months, and now one month. The current situation is to rob a great many deceased miners of benefit entitlement altogether.

Current regulations are interpreted as saying that you cannot receive payment for any time longer than a month before the date of claim. This would be fine in cases where the disease or accident is known about and where the person is capable of claiming, but becomes a gross injustice when applied to people whose eligibility to claim only comes to light as a result of death. A family might find their husband, or father has died in circumstances likely to suggest industrial death, firstly an autopsy has to be convened and conducted, then an inquest convened and then a verdict decided upon. It is only at this point when the family can prove the man died of industrial lung disease and submit a claim. Even if the Medical Board and or the Medical Appeal Tribunal decide yes the man suffered from the disease, perhaps rendering him 100% disabled, that he was totally disabled by it, and it eventually has killed him, the family will not be paid any benefit whatever because the maximum payment period is one month before the date of claim.

Exactly the same is the case where a man is awarded some low disablement award , perhaps 10% for CB&E, the mans health goes into steep decline and he dies the autopsy reveals his disability suggestive of 100% for the previous two years. The family again after some time passes while autopsy and inquest consider the cause of death, submit a claim for change of circumstances which goes to the Medical Board and or the MAT which agree his condition was worse and should have been 80% say rising to 100% in the year of death, will not be paid a thing despite this, because of the one month rule.

In cases where a man has been found to have Chronic Bronchitis only, but pneumoconiosis perhaps PMF is found at autopsy opening the way for higher retrospective awards, nothing will be paid to the widow because of the effect of this rule. This is true even if the man had made several applications and been turned down in life, only to find in death he had it all a long and ought to have been paid.

These are not hypothetical cases but actual ones I have just dealt with today. You implied when you took office you would address the injustices surrounding miners lung diseases. The cases I have just outlined to you are happening week by week, are a gross injustice and an affront to any notion of natural justice and are not so far as I can see being addressed by anyone.

The above requires a maximum public discussion and publicity, but in good faith I will give you the chance to look into it, and hopefully offer some perspective of putting it right.

Faithfully

David Douglass

 

UPDATE 2

The Response From Dept of Social Security ref TO/01/11840/00

4/06/01

Dear Mr Douglass

Thank you for your letter of 28 March to Mr Hain concerning Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). I hope you will understand that due to the large numbers of letters received by the Minister, he is unable to reply to them all personally. He therefore ask officials of the appropriate Department to reply and I have been asked to do so.

Your letter draws our attention to the provisions of the 1997 regulations relating to disablement benefit claims. As this matter relates to Social Security policy it has been passed to this Department for a reply and I apologise for the delay that this has caused.

The time limits for claiming Social Security benefits have been a feature of the benefits system since its inception and the rules had become very complex. The previous administration introduced changes in April 1997 which went some way to align the complex rules for backdating benefits. The subsequent administration committed itself to modernising the structure and delivery of Social Security to make the system simpler for the public to understand and more straightforward for staff to administer.

The principle underlying the current rules is that people should put in a claim for a benefit as soon as the need arises. This marks a shift from the previous regime where people would commonly make a late claim and hope it could be backdated. Dissatisfaction frequently arose because there was often uncertainty and inconsistency in deciding whether or not individual claims would be backdated. Present rules are far more clearly defined so that staff and claimants alike can have greater confidence that they will be consistently and fairly applied. Provided the conditions of entitlement are satisfied, all claims to Social Security benefits are entitled to three months backdating before the date of claim, including IIDB.

Although IIDB is intended to be compensation to the person who has suffered disablement caused by their job, a posthumous claim to IIDB can be made in respect of a deceased person in certain prescribed circumstances. A claim made under these rules is treated as if it had been made on the date of the claimants death. (other provision is made in the benefit system for those caring for the disabled where this is necessary).

I realise that you may find this reply disappointing, but I hope you will accept that the changes were made in the spirit of clear and straightforward benefit rules and in the context of providing compensation to the person who has been disabled.

Yours Sincerely

T Mann

 

UPDATE 3

OUR RESPONSE

25/ 6 / 2001

Dear Mr Mann

I cannot see how the operation of the 1997 changes "providing compensation to the person who has been disabled" work in any way when we are talking of industrial lung diseases whose extent or existence often cannot be established until after the person has found to have died from the disease. Since the evidence only comes to light following the death it would be clearly impossible for the person to establish the existence of the disease any earlier. This is a gross injustice in itself but even more so when we take the case of people who applied for benefits and were wrongly turned down as a result of not recognising the existence of the disease. Again the evidence to prove it had been a wrong decision only comes to light following the death. The effect is to rob the claimant (or his next of kin) from benefits they would clearly have been entitled to had the wrong decision not been made. I am not an emotional person but I can see no other term than ‘robbing the dead’ as being descriptive of the effects of this so called ‘reform’ . That it is presided over by a so called Labour Government in whom so many miners placed so much trust is even more disgraceful.

Faithfully

David Douglass

 

UPDATE 4

 

‘MORE PAID OUT FOR A DEAD COW WITH FOOT AND MOUTH THAN A DEAD MINER WITH PNEUMO’ !!

Whitestone
Nuneaton
Warwickshire CV11 6UU
20th May 2001

Dear Mr Douglass

I am writing to you with regard to your letter to Mr Peter Hain and your piece regarding Chronic Bronchitis-Blairs Mining Disaster which my sister obtained from the Internet.

It was heartening to realise that other miner’s and their families are experiencing similar situations. I will endeavour to explain our situation just to put you in the picture.

My father died on 30th April 1982 at the age of 69 of pneumoconiosis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The Coroner put death due to industrial disease, which of course we knew because of the years of pain and suffering that he sustained.

My father had a letter from the Coal Board dated 1949 stating that he was fit enough to return to work in the mine as a coal cutter, which was his job in the mines. He used to be in the Welsh coalfields then came to the Midlands. From 1947 to 1949 he worked in the timber yard because of his chest. Of course under the Claims Handling Agreement we cannot claim prior to 1954 because of the Arnold V CEGB 1987 decision. My Mother instructed a solicitor in Oct. 1982. My Mother then died and my family have continued the claim against the Coal Board. Our Solicitor has been representing this family since 1982. He has never really advised us but that is another matter we are taking up with the local Law Society.

We were ready to go to Court when the Solicitors group formed and then of course the Claims Handling Agreement came into force. We have only just received an offer from the Solicitors acting for the DTI and it is an insult to our Fathers memory and his pain and suffering through the years for General Damages £5790.27p interest £1966.37p, services £448.06 Nursing £1970.75 Mobility £303.52 Misc. Expenses £38.38. Funeral Expenses £810.77p amounting to £11,228. On the supposed experts advice, my fathers life was shortened by 8 years.

On looking through Dr Rudd’s report he is just guessing at what percentage of disability my father suffered and of course compensation is based upon his figures. We do not agree with his professional advice as we have evidence and of course our Solicitor knows this, we also have the memory of day to day suffering of my father, which we have not been able to put to rest since his death in 1982. For the 8 years of loss of life we have not been offered anything at present because pre 1983 deaths have not yet been sorted out between the Solicitors and the DTI. Our Solicitor is suggestion £3,500 plus interest for the whole of these years !

This is another insult as how can 8 years of my fathers life be only worth £3,500, the farmers during the foot and mouth are getting more for a dead cow than that ! We received an interim payment in December 1999 of £2,500 which we did not ask for and are now being charged £214,25p interest ! In the Claims Handling Agreement the interest supposedly for each year is 3% but the DTI Solicitors say it is only 2%.

We cannot understand how the media stated £1B for the Miners and even in the Christmas 2000 issue 2 (DTI Bulletin) it states "payments made 27,000 Total Compensation paid £93 million ! The figures do not add up as this is not supposed to include Solicitors costs. Men with VWF (Vibration White Finger) are getting £12,000 and even Canteen Ladies will probably end up with more than a miners families who has suffered and has lost "years of life" such as my father had he not worked down the mines.

We as a family want justice . Our solicitor, acting for us when we paid in nearly £2,000 in legal aid funds 16 years ago (that is when my Mother died) will receive approximately £60,000 maybe more for this case !

We would like to know if there is any advice you could give us. We have thought of approaching the media as we would like this to be brought into the open.

Of course, we do know of some miners just putting in a claim because they worked down the mines and there is, I hate to say this, nothing wrong with them, and in a way they are doing this on the backs of families like ourselves. We are the ones who put money into Legal Aid in order to fight the Coal Board and then when 8 lead cases went into Court, we have been shoved to the back in the stampede ! We also cannot under stand how C............’s widow of Sam ..........s one of the lead cases was awarded £32,527.24p .Our Solicitor has failed to answer on many occasion where did this amount come into the equation of the Handling Agreement. We have copies of the tables i.e. A man aged between 61-70 with 80% or more starts at £51,256 and then of course deductions because of the percentage that can be claimed i.e. Either 16.37% or 10.33% for smoking etc. It does seem rather unfair that a figure is used as a base then percentages taken off, miners are never going to receive a fair amount of compensation. We also feel that perhaps the litigated cases are being dealt with on a lower scale than the expedited ones straight through the DTI. In the same DTI bulletin it stated that even though some miners accepted the lower figure, the amount went up to £14,550 for the majority of miners ! They are not even offering this amount to my father after nearly 19 years of fighting on his behalf.

If you have any advice you could give us please write and let us know. As a family we wholeheartedly agree with your letter and your writings on the Internet.

Yours Sincerely

Mrs K. E. Hemmings.

( We appreciate the deep bitter feelings of rage and injustice which this poor miners daughter feels for the loss of her father and the injustice done to her family. However we should not turn against one another. It is impossible for miners who do not have lung disease to claim compensation for it anyway. The tests are as described in this article and we have enough problems proving the condition in men who are riddled with it and dying, never mind someone who is unaffected. Besides which, since we all breathed the same air down the mines with the same dusts and noxious fumes its hard to see how anyone's lungs could be unaffected. )

 

UPDATE 5

 

The Final Word?

Department For Work and Pensions
The Adelphi 1-11 John Adam Street,
London WC2N 6HT
6 July 2001 our ref TO/01/15384

Dear Mr Douglass

Thank you for your further letter of 25 June to T Mann.

Unfortunately, I feel that I am unable to add anything further to my colleagues previous reply. I can only say that there are no plans to change the policy with regard to claiming benefit for a backdated period.

Yours Sincerely
H Smith.

In other words then, they cannot justify the deprivation of benefits to widows and next of kin of deceased miners who had been robbed of benefit entitlements , by DSS wrong diagnosis, or inability to prove entitlement until after death. A glaring injustice to rank with all those other injustices miners and their families have had to face over the carnage reaped by lung diseases caused by the coal industry. DD

 

UPDATE 5

Still more insights are revealed in Oct. 2001, men suffering from solely Chronic Bronchitis with a 40% disability for example, are told that the correct, in accordance with the agreed scale (not agreed by the NUM by the way, but between the DTI acting for the Coal Board and a group of selected negotiating solicitors) is £2,300. Which worked upwards means if 100% of your disability is caused from Chronic Bronchitis the maximum compensation you can receive is £5,236 maximum.

As someone commented earlier "More for a dead cow".

Another amassing discovery in the scale is the disappearing dust, magic dust which just evaporates once its left the coal face or the heading. How come ? "It is accepted that some occupations exposed workers to greater amounts of dust than others so for example a Face Worker is given a "dust factor" of 1.5 whilst haulage and conveyor attendants have a dust factor or 0.7 ". So after the dust leaves the face where does it go, considering that the air containing the dust then circulates down the tail gate ? A man driving a haulage engine at the end of the tail gate which conducts all the dust from all operations on the face, is scaled as only breathing 0.7 of the dust while the man on the face, lets say intake side of the small cutting machine and the whole tail gate operations actually is exposed to less dust than the engine driver at the end of the return airway, or any of the countless haulage workers and track workers back rippers , dinters etc. working in the tail gate. Do these people have any idea at all how a coal mine works ? Apparently not.

The DTI have recently decided that since most cases are decided on balance of probability, working history, exposure to dust, and health records, the deceased mineworkers who worked after 1954 have also got a claim. This is so even if the man died from natural causes. This is the one chink of justice in the whole dark cloud of injustice and conspiracy.

It may be because of a new Energy Minister, it may be because awards as we have seen are likely to be very very small. Of course cynically it could be that miners diseases are somewhat of an industry, and many people earn good livings from these assessments and legal processes. Could be that since the claims among living miners are now coming to an end, it is necessary to find ways of extending the business ?! Cynical suspicious bastards these miners ! We wonder why.

 

UPDATE 6

I am extremely angry!!
I wrote and e- mailed the solicitor appointed by whomever to supposedly help my widowed mothers claim. asking why they were paying out the claim on Bronchitis as this was something my mother did not understand and I am not sure I did either as neither of us are medical experts. But more to the point I do not think we have ever received the criteria regarding the claims. Anyway my e- mail simply asked why they were paying out on Bronchitis when my father died of Carcinoma of the lung and I asked the Solicitor Claire Jackson of Moss solicitors to please advise my mother. This is the response my mother got..
"The respiratory specialist who made the medical report has stated that the only chest condition that Mr Kociuch suffered from was chronic Bronchitis. This is why this is a chronic Bronchitis claim......I note that you have not responded to my letter of the 4th of December 2002 and I look forward to a reply without further delay. "
(Should we read you pair of thick stupid individuals.) How many other widows have been worn down by this total lack of understanding.!!!
Who is this bloody heartless woman working for? Is my Mother costing her more time than she is getting paid for? My mother is incensed and insulted and If she has been dealt with in this manner for five years I am not surprised are you.?
I have to say I have only just got involved because my Mum was worrying so much she has said she would not accept the offer made in Dec 2002. Because she suffered so much during my fathers lifetime. It has really upset her again ,but she has complied in the last 5 years and I think deserves much better than this intolerant response.
If you can lend your weight in anyway I personally would be very grateful but I can also tell you that a 73year old grandmother should not be allowed to feel that once again she and her husband were inconsquenstional..
I think, you are a man that I feel has a passionate interest in coal miners and their fate as well, as having a deep understanding of their lives.
My Mum feels the pressure is on an s is worried about getting nothing now but for Gods Sake how much longer can these insults go on.

Ps If you want to put my letter on you website you have my full permission . How many other poor widows are experiencing this lack of support form solicitors who are supposedly acting for them.?
yours extremely angrily Veronica Kociuch Teacher of 21 one years and a coal miners daughter

 

UPDATE 7

American Miners Face the same injustice.

Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2004 10:31 AM
Subject: Miners Chest Pain

Hello Mr Douglas. I was looking for some forms to down load and ran across "Miners Chest Claims". My father worked for Peabody Coal Co. for many years. He was a test driller. He applied for Black Lung and was refused, yet his coworkers got it. My father just gave up on it. He is in a nursing home now and is on oxygen twenty four seven. He has COPD. He is also on nebulizer treatments--this is not counting the 3 inhalers he is on. He is constantly complaining that he can not breath, coughing up mucous and has had two bouts of pneumonia in the last two months. My father Drexel Bishop was and still is a strong union man. My mother died a little over a year ago and also had COPD. She was not a miner but did work for the "United Mine Workers Of America Credit Union" and visited the mines, etc. in this job. She visited the mines to sign the miners up on the credit union. My daddy wants to come home, he is so home sick. I cannot care for him due to having Multiple Sclerosis. He would not draw enough to hire someone to help care for him. If he could draw his Black Lung I could bring him home. I am a Registered Nurse so I know if anyone should receive benefits, it is him. If there is anything you could do to help it would be so greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Gloria Clintsman

(This letter was sent by the daughter of an American Mineworker, and is reprinted with her kind permission. Obviously, miners there have suiffered the same conditions and injustices as our own miners. Dave referred this lady to the UMWA)

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