Unite member secures £100,000 for career-altering injury

Colin contacted Unite Legal Services for help with a compensation claim after repetitive work at a car manufacturer caused him to suffer a career-changing injury.

The 42-year-old Unite member from Newcastle was asked by his bosses to move to a new department, as they were low on staff. He was told that he would be rotated between three jobs to avoid repetitive work.

However, after a few days working on the wax booth, Colin realised this wouldn’t be the case.

His new job involved climbing up and down a small set of stairs to work on individual cars. In a single shift he would be expected to do this upwards of 450 times, with no rotation.

After a month, Colin asked his employer whether he could work on other jobs, however his request was ignored.

Within six months, Colin started suffering significant pain in his right knee, later found to be caused by damage to his cartilage. A year later, his employer fired him on the premise that he had taken unauthorised leave, even though his doctor and an orthopaedic consultant told him he wasn’t fit to work.

His employers continued to deny liability, and the stress of this – alongside the physical injuries – caused Colin to suffer a nervous breakdown.

“Talk about adding insult to injury. I couldn’t believe how my employer treated me,” said Colin. “First they put my health at risk. Then they ignored my concerns. Then they laid me off.”

Colin turned to Unite Legal Services, securing £100,000 compensation.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Unite,” he said. “My employer was refusing to admit any wrongdoing. I even contacted the Health and Safety Executive to investigate, but that didn’t make them take my injuries any more seriously.

“In the end it took the hard work of Unite Legal Services, who know better than most how to deal with difficult employers, to get my employer to acknowledge that the company was in the wrong, not me.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “This was a complex case made more difficult by the employer defending its position vigorously until the case nearly came to trial. Our legal team obtained a number of witness statements from colleagues supporting Colin’s claim, including a Unite steward, as well as reports from medical experts. It was only through this that his employer saw no other option that to admit fault and pay Colin a fair compensation for the pain and financial hardships this injury has caused him.”