When a former fitter from Wakefield died of an asbestos-related cancer, his widow turned to Unite the union and Thompsons for legal guidance.

The Unite the union member died in January 2015 after a nine-month battle with mesothelioma, which left him in significant pain and struggling to breathe.

He was exposed to asbestos throughout his career at a Wakefield-based manufacturer, which started when he joined as an apprentice in 1941 and ended when he retired as a foreman in 1988. He worked in the fitting shop, cutting clutch discs and brake linings, which were then used in presses and guillotines. By doing this, he would inadvertently disturb and breathe in asbestos dust that was used to lag the clutch discs and brake linings.

The daughter of the Unite member said: “Dad was a keen gardener and loved to do DIY around his house. This all changed within months of his diagnosis and he was hardly even able to walk. Now that I’m helping out mum around the house, I’ve begun to appreciate just how much work my dad did and how much this disease took away from him.”

His Unite membership meant his family were able to turn to Unite Legal Services and instruct Thompsons Solicitors to support a compensation claim. Since 1972, when it brought about the first-ever successful asbestos disease case in the UK in the House of Lords, Thompsons Solicitors has continued to support trade union members and others who are ill because of workplace asbestos exposure, as well as their families.

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Almost half a century of negligence by our member’s employer left him suffering from this disease. His family were devastated by his loss and turned to our legal team, as well as Thompsons Solicitors, for answers.

“By supporting the family’s investigation into a legal claim, they were able to understand why this happened in the first place.”

"Almost half a century of negligence by our member’s employer left him suffering from this disease. By supporting the family’s investigation into a legal claim, they were able to understand why this happened in the first place."

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union