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JUSTICE FOR THE MINERS: GOVERNMENT BLASTED OVER PITMEN PAY-OUTS; Too few know of compensation deadline, says lawyer.

Byline: DAVID MATHER

THE Government came under fire last night for failing to get its message across on miners' compensation.

Solicitors have been flooded with calls from ex-pitmen since launching an advertising campaign urging them to seek compensation for health problems caused by working in pits.

More than 1,000 former pit workers have contacted law firm Thompsons in recent weeks asking for information about the Government's compensation scheme for chest and other diseases.

Thompsons launched the advertising campaign in England and Wales last month to alert former miners, their widows and their families of their rights to claim compensation.

But the firm warned the deadline for claims under the chronic emphysema and bronchitis compensation scheme for miners would not be open-ended and anyone who was a miner, or whose husband or father was a miner after 1954, should claim as soon as possible.

Most calls have come from south Wales, South Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Tom Jones, a partner at Thompsons, said while it was encouraging the advertising campaign was reaching so many people, it was "alarming" that the Government's message to them to claim without delay did not seem to have been "totally effective".

"We have to question whether the Government is getting its message across if so many people are still not registered.

"Given that the time period for claims is not open-ended maybe the Government should look again at how it is communicating with the former mining communities.

"Former miners and their families have suffered enough, without also losing out on compensation."
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2001
Words:255
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