Former dockyard workers compensated for asbestos poisoning

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that nothing will make up for the damages suffered, but the least the Government could do, is offer compensation

Government is paying compensation to around 300 former dockyard workers, who got sick as a result of working with asbestos, a poisonous material that causes cancer.

The cases date back decades and unfortunately, 200 of these workers have since died because of the damage they sustained to their health.

Social Justice Minister Michael Falzon and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana announced the compensation scheme on Wednesday in the presence of workers and the heirs of those who died.

"The government is aware of the health problems that these workers suffered and that nothing will make up for it, however it is acknowledging what happened in the past and the least it could do, is offer financial compensation," Caruana said.

Compensation ranges between €5,800 and €16,600, with the largest amount being offered to the worst affected by the condition. Caruana and Falzon announced that 49 workers have already been compensated.

Four medical doctors evaluated each case to ensure the compensation was justified.

Compensation is being offered on three criteria; the severity of the disability, the duration of sickness, as well as the age in which one died – in the cases where compensation is received by the heirs. Caruana said that from 300 submissions that were made, 200 were of people that have already passed away.

Falzon said the government had reacted to the long-standing battle these dockyard workers endured to receive compensation. "Today’s occasion is not one of celebration but a recognition. As a government we are acknowledging the suffering endured by and still being sustained by former dockyard workers and their families. Although at that time, no one was aware of the effects of asbestos, we felt that we had to deliver justice to these families," he said.

The applications for compensation will once again open in November.