Unions won £320 million in compensation last year for workers who suffered illness or injury, ranging from stress to road accidents.
The TUC report showed that stress, Repetitive Strain Injury and asbestos-related cases were among the most common problems during 1999.
The report revealed that the total payout was the second highest on record and worked out as an average of more than £6,000 per case.
Legal officers dealt with 54,650 cases, including 2,700 where a criminal offence was alleged.
Settlements this year included £100,000 to a firefighter who suffered from stress and depression, £20,000 to a bank worker whose health suffered after she was the victim of an armed raid, and £7,000 to a teacher injured in a car accident on the way to school.
TUC general secretary John Monks said: “This survey shows it definitely pays to be in a union. Union legal services remain the best and often only source of help when things go wrong. But unions don’t want as many cases as they are getting. The cases are a sign that too often there are inadequate health and safety checks and in too many cases, victims are offered no rehabilitation to get them back to fitness and back to work.”
In 1998, the union won £308 million in compensation for its members and the average payout was £5,110.
By Ben Willmott