A High Court date has been set for nearly 200 workers from across South Wales who are taking legal action against British Coal and British Steel.
The group claim will be reviewed on October 16 and includes 39 claimants who worked at Nantgarw Coke Plant, as well as 23 from Coedely, 30 from the Cwm works in Porth and 14 from Ebbw Vale Steelworks.
The case follows a 2012 judgement against Phurnacite – which had plants in Nantgarw, Bedwas and Bargoed – allowing workers to claim compensation for work related illness.
The majority of workers were employed at coke works between the 1940s and 1980s and suffered with various respiratory illnesses, including lung cancers, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Many have now since died as a result of their condition and the latest claims, that total 350, also include illness suffered from working at British Steel plants.
Law firms Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell are jointly representing workers who were exposed to harmful dust and fumes whilst working for the companies and their subsidiaries.
The firms jointly issued a letter of claim against British Coal and British Steel and have welcomed news that a date has been given for the first consideration of litigation.
The judge will investigate the scale and potential for litigation, taking into consideration the number of coke oven claimants involved.
Gareth Morgan, Partner at Hugh James, said: “Time and time again, we hear of cases where workers have been left paying the price of their employers not protecting their health and safety decades ago.
“We welcome news that a date has been set and hope that our clients’ cases will be resolved quickly and amicably.”
Roger Maddocks, a specialist workplace illness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Hundreds of former coke oven workers are now suffering from terrible conditions simply because of the work they carried out on a day-to-day basis.
“Employees have a basic right to be able to go to work and return home safely at the end of the day.
“Sadly, in these cases, the workers have been affected by very serious and in some cases terminal illnesses just because of the air they breathed at work.
“We have repeatedly called for improvements to safety in the workplace and will continue to campaign for the rights of the victims we represent.”
After the 2012 case mining union NACODS in Wales General Secretary, Bleddyn Hancock, said: “Thousands of former coke oven workers or their families may now be able to claim compensation if the workers’ contracted these illnesses as a result of their work at any coke ovens in Britain since 1954.
“The filthy conditions these men worked in were unbelievable.”