Mine workers could lose out in compensation bid

Thousands of sick former asbestos mine workers in South Africa could be
forced to settle their compensation claim against a British firm for less than
half the figure a court might award.

The 7,500 mine workers, who in 2000 won a landmark judgement allowing them
to pursue their claim in Britain, were told the courts would award at least
£50m ($72.6m)

But their lawyers are pressing for settlement amid speculation that building
materials firm Cape faces severe financial difficulties. They advise that a sum
of £25m ($36.3m) would be more realistic if it becomes clear the company or its
insurers cannot meet the higher figure.

The mine workers allege that they were exposed to dangerous levels of
asbestos by the former subsidiary of Cape without being provided with the
appropriate protection.

The T&G union, which represents 500 Cape staff in the UK, backs the
proposed settlement.


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