Unite member Neil Lindridge has received compensation after his 35-year career at a major Yorkshire power station was cut short due to diagnosis of an industrial disease.
The 57-year-old worked as a mechanical fitter at Drax Power Station, having joined there in 1984 as an electrician’s mate.
He became ill in 2013 as a result of sustained exposure to the burning of biomass. Neil would suffer from breathing difficulties that led to him being diagnosed with occupational asthma two years later.
Mr Lindridge said: “As soon as they found out about my condition, they shut me away in a workshop. I wasn’t allowed to open a door or a window, and I couldn’t leave it unless it was to use the toilet.
“For three years, I sat in that workshop for nine hours a day with one other man, who had the same condition. It was like being in a prison and it was known jokingly around the plant as the ‘leper colony’. No-one was allowed to come in and see us for fear of dust being on their clothes. Towards the end of my employment the only people we saw regularly were from occupational health, and they would visit twice a day to monitor my breathing. Occasionally, a supervisor would also check in on us.”
The isolation of this new role impacted Mr Lindridge’s mental health. Three years later, he was dismissed by his employer on the basis of ill health.
He turned to Unite Legal Services, which helped him secure a significant settlement.
Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, added: “The way that Mr Lindridge was treated with disdain by his employer, despite 35 years of dedicated service, shows why it is incredibly important that working people have the support of trade unions. We are proud that, as a member of Unite the union, Mr Lindridge gets to keep 100 per cent of his compensation.”