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Fri January 28 2022

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Union condemns law firm’s campaign

3 Dec 21 A campaign to promote the rights of construction site workers has been slammed as just a marketing scheme for a law firm attempting to turn a profit.

The National Accident Helpline, a company that pursues legal case for injured workers on a no-win no-fee basis, says that its ‘Rights on Site’ campaign seeks to embolden construction workers to make a claim in the event of an accident.

It says that many construction workers are scared of making claims, fearing that they might be blacklisted. The campaign literature states: “Our ‘Rights on Site' campaign was borne [sic] out of the discovery of an embedded culture in the construction industry where workers are largely reluctant to speak up after accidents and injuries. We've started this campaign to change this culture, because we want construction workers to understand their rights and get the justice they deserve if they have an accident at work that isn't their fault, or if they are facing unfair treatment.”

However, the Unite union is warning building workers “not to be duped” by the campaign as it fails to mention how much they will have to hand over to the lawyers in the event of a successful claim.

Union members get free legal advice and representation and keep 100% of any compensation awarded.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “When an offer appears to be too good to be true it usually is. The National Accident Helpline has not launched Rights on Sites out of the goodness of its heart but as a cynical attempt to boost profits.

 “Unite is the union that puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members front and centre and that commitment applies fully to all construction workers.”

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The National Accident Helpline is a subsidiary of NAHL Group plc, which stated in its latest accounts that the Covid-19 pandemic had been bad for business as fewer people had had accidents at work: “This was a significant setback in our plans,” it said.

NAHL Group made a pre-tax loss of £225,000 in 2020 on the back of a £3.0m loss in 2019. In 2016 it made nearly £16m before tax.

The declining profits may be a significant factor in the launch of Rights on Sites, Unite suggested.

 Unite national officer Jerry Swain said: “The best possible protection against injuries on construction sites is to be a member of Unite. Union organised sites are safer sites and if an accident should occur, our members receive a 100% of the compensation award.

 “The National Accident Helpline has absolutely nothing to do with workers’ rights on construction sites. They are ‘ambulance chasers’ who only take on the cases they are convinced they can’t lose and then help themselves to a fair old chunk of the worker's compensation.”

National Accident Helpline later responded to Unite's criticism by insisting that its motives were entirely altruistic.  "As an organisation we firmly believe in standing up for what is right, we never cold call and have actively lobbied against it and we never approach people directly to incite them to make a claim," it said. "We support people who have experienced an injury through no fault of their own to get back on track."

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