Trade unions scoop millions in members' damages

Trade unions are winning more in legal damages for their members than ever before, according to a TUC survey of union legal services.

The report, Legal Services for the Union Family, estimates that unions won £323m for their members in 1995, an increase of £31m on the previous year, making unions the main source of support when people are injured or become ill because of their work.

It also concludes that union legal services are good value for money, spending only between 5 and 7 per cent of the damages won on legal bills.

The survey revealed that unions are extending their legal services to cover cases arising outside work and those involving members' families. The TUC is urging unions to consider covering members' ageing and dependent parents.

The nature of litigation has also changed as members move away from traditional industries to service and science sectors.

TUC general secretary John Monks said: “When things go wrong at work, unions are often the only way employees can secure redress. Unions are the ultimate insurance policy for working people.”