The family of a former UNISON member has received more than £140,000 in compensation following his death from mesothelioma - a lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace.

Jim Crowe, from Wood Green in London, died aged 79, in June 2007 after developing the deadly disease.

Jim, who left behind his wife, Tess, four children and four grandchildren, was exposed to asbestos while working for Greater London Council (GLC) and Haringey Council.

He worked as a general foreman for GLC between 1968 and 1971, responsible for supervising 120 men who worked with asbestos materials.

Stripping out boilers lagged with asbestos

He was employed as a clerk of works and senior clerk of works for Haringey Council between 1972 and 1988 where he was responsible for supervising employees stripping out boilers lagged with asbestos.

However, he was never given any protection from asbestos by his employers despite regularly questioning them about health and safety at work.

UNISON Regional Secretary for Greater London, Linda Perks said “Mr Crowe was exposed to asbestos when doing a hard day’s work. The employers put his health and safety in jeopardy by exposing him to asbestos at a time when they knew or ought to have known about the dangers.

“We are pleased we have been able to secure compensation for Mr Crowe’s family but this will never make up for the loss of a husband, father and grandfather.”

Important for victim of asbestos to claim compensation

His daughter Anita Crowe, aged 42, from Suffolk said it was important for her dad to claim compensation. The family decided to pursue compensation after one of Jim’s former colleagues received assistance from UNISON to make personal injury claims. 

Anita Crowe said: “My dad was a really fit and healthy man and he was passionate about DIY and gardening. He was really talented at all sorts of odd jobs and would help out the entire family with his skills.

“But during the last seven or eight years he started to lose all his energy and ability to do any physical work. He didn’t know what was wrong with him. It was sad to see the way he suffered and the psychological effect his illness had on him. 

“Throughout his career he fought for better working conditions. He questioned why the employers were allowing workers to strip out asbestos from schools but were not given any protection from the dust. He felt it was only right that his former employers should be made to accept responsibility for his illness.

“He also wanted to ensure my mum was provided for financially following his death.”

There is no known cure for mesothelioma

Trade union law firm Thompsons Solicitors were appointed by UNISON to act for the family.

Client representative at Thompsons Solicitors, Ann Marie Christie said: “Mesothelioma is a devastating disease for which there is currently no known cure. We hope the compensation will alleviate any financial worries for Mr Crowe’s widow and that it provides a sense of justice for the family.”

Mr Crowe, who moved to London from County Clare in Ireland in the 1950s, was formally a shop steward with UNISON. Throughout his employment he fought for safer working conditions for his workmates.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure for the disease which affects around 2,000 people in the UK every year.