Paul Young, 71, from South Shields is one of six former employees of Smiths Shiprepairers, based in North Shields, who may have to wait for years for compensation for asbestos-related conditions.

Mr Young, from Henderson Road, who is sole carer for his 44-year-old brain damaged son, Geoffrey, sufferers from the disabling lung condition pleural thickening.

He said he has no idea when he can expect to receive more than £12,000 in compensation after his former employer went into liquidation.

The GMB and its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors represent many of the former Smiths Shiprepairers' workers who have been waiting years for compensation.

They are calling for the compensation to be paid out without further delay.

Despite a settlement being reached in all the cases, the money cannot be paid because Smith Shiprepairers and its insurers Iron Trades / Chester Street Insurance are in liquidation.

Normally under these circumstances the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) would meet the liabilities of the employer.

This time they have refused until the receivers have confirmed there are no other assets available for the company to meet the asbestos claims.

It is understood the receivers' investigations into the assets and liabilities of Smiths Shiprepairers has been ongoing for a number of years and is not expected to end in the foreseeable future.

Regional secretary of the GMB, Tom Brennan said: "It is shocking that these workers have had to wait for their rightful compensation. They worked hard for Smiths Shiprepairers and now they are being let down by the system.

"We would urge the receivers and the FSCS to remedy this injustice as soon as possible."

Head of Asbestos Policy

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors, Ian McFall said: "These men were negligently exposed to asbestos while employed by Smiths Shiprepairers. We have fought to obtain settlements for them but they face waiting years to receive their compensation.

"They are caught up in what seems like endless bureaucratic red tape."

Mr Young is the sole carer for his son, who has suffered brain damage since birth. He said the compensation would help him pay towards better care and equipment for Geoffrey.

Mr Young worked as a plater for a number of Tyneside yards. He served his apprenticeship at Middle Docks in South Shields where he was also exposed to asbestos.

He later went to work at Smiths Shiprepairers in North Shields during the 1970s where he was stripping asbestos off old ships which meant he was breathing in the dust every day.

He developed pleural plaques in 1997. Recently he was diagnosed with pleural thickening, a condition which has left him breathless and unable to carry out some tasks.

Mr Young said the condition means he can no longer lift his wheelchair bound son Geoffrey.

His claim for compensation was split between British Shipbuilders and Smiths Ship Repairers. He has already received British Shipbuilders' share but is still waiting for the £12,000 from Smiths Shiprepairers.

He said: "Thompsons and my union GMB fought to gain this money for me. Now each day that goes by without it means I have to scrimp and save to buy Geoffrey the things he needs. I don't see why I have to wait for my compensation. It should have been paid to me as soon as the case was settled."