A GMB member who suffered permanent damage to his hand in a workplace accident and whose employers threatened to make him redundant when he pursued a claim for compensation has finally received damages after help from the union’s solicitors.

Craig Dunwell, 43, from Rothwell, Leeds, needed an operation to repair nerve damage after he suffered a deep cut to the palm of his right hand whilst fitting a temporary flue in a Leeds school for Fluestax Ltd.

The flue had been made by his employer as a temporary measure but he had not been warned that a dangerously sharp edge hadn’t been smoothed down.

The accident severed the nerve to his little finger, meaning he had to take three weeks off work. He still has difficulty working with his hands.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

He contacted the GMB which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

But a few months after the accident and Thompsons issuing a claim Mr Dunwell was forced to sign a letter withdrawing his instructions after his employer threatened to make him redundant if he continued his claim.

Just short of three years after signing the letter Mr Dunwell was made redundant anyway. He instructed Thompsons Solicitors to continue his claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the flue’s edges should have been made safe and that suitable protective gloves should have been provided to Mr Dunwell.

Fluestax Ltd, based in Wakefield, admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £10,250.

Dangerous working practices resulted an injury

Mr Dunwell, who is now working as a welder in the steel industry, said: “My injury means that I find it difficult to use my finger. I have learnt to cope but by the end of a working day it’s numb.

“I couldn’t believe it when my bosses threatened to make me redundant. I was forced to sign a letter saying I was no longer pursuing compensation. I felt I had been backed into a corner - then I lost my job anyway! I’m so glad the union was there to support me and that Thompsons were able to settle the claim in the end.”

Tim Roache regional secretary at the GMB said: “It is shocking that Mr Dunwell’s employers felt they were above the law and could force him to withdraw his claim for compensation. It was bad enough that their dangerous working practices meant he suffered an injury which has seen him endure a painful operation and take time off work. We hope other employers take heed of Mr Dunwell’s case.”

Stephen Woolford from Thompsons Solicitors said: “We took an extremely dim view of Fluestax’s attempts to derail Mr Dunwell’s claim for compensation. Their derisory tactics wasted time and money and added more stress to Mr Dunwell, who was already dealing with the after affects of the accident.”