07/11/2012 06:50 GMT

Tube Drivers Who Hit Suicide Victims 'Will Not Get Compensation' For Trauma

A train driver who has been unable to return to work after the trauma of her train hitting a suicide victim would not have received any money under controversial Government changes to a compensation scheme, a union said today.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said it could be the last incident of its kind where a train driver receives compensation.

Labour and unions, including those representing shop and postal workers, have accused the Government of "ramming through" changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), saying that 90% of victims will be affected.


Tube drivers have criticised plans to push through changes to criminal injury compensation

Labour has called an Opposition Day debate on the controversy.

The RMT said that if the changes are confirmed by Parliament, train drivers will no longer be able to claim for the trauma caused by witnessing a suicide.

The union pointed to the case of Karen Jordan, from north London, who was medically retired as a train driver after the rail suicide in 2008.

Mrs Jordan, who was awarded compensation under the scheme, said she suffered flashbacks and nightmares after the incident.

She said: "I know first-hand how traumatic these types of incidents are and believe they should continue to be recognised by the CICS.

"It is the only way that train drivers are compensated for the horror they witness at the point of impact and in the aftermath of the suicide.

"I am appalled that drivers who might go through what I saw and experienced are to be banned by the Government from getting any compensation for the horror."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Karen Jordan's shocking case shows just what is at stake for working people, out there at the sharp end, if this Government gets away with their plans to rip apart the criminal injuries compensation arrangements.

"Compensation is a small price to pay for helping people who have witnessed traumatic events, or been assaulted by criminals in their workplace, to rebuild their lives. The attempt to tear away this safety net must be stopped."

Harriet Wheeler from Thompsons Solicitors, who was involved in Mrs Jordan's case, said: "This train driver was hugely traumatised as a result of this incident.

"Under the CICS reforms, her application would have been rejected yet she would still be dealing with the effects of the suicide victim's actions."

Usdaw said there were many cases where shopworkers have been seriously injured, suffering hearing and eyesight problems, facial injuries and nose fractures, where compensation will no longer be claimed because of the changes.

Chipped teeth, dislocated collar bones and knees and fractured ribs will also no longer be eligible for awards, said Usdaw.

The Communication Workers Union said postal workers attacked by dogs will be affected by the changes.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We are dedicated to preserving compensation to the most seriously injured victims of crime.

"But where less serious injuries have been caused, we believe taxpayers' money is better spent providing support and help rather than what are often small amounts of compensation well after the crime has been committed.

"We have listened carefully to concerns raised and believe we must do more to help those very low earners who may find themselves in real and immediate financial hardship following our proposed changes.

"We are therefore establishing a £500,000 hardship fund for people who are temporarily unable to work and who are not in receipt of statutory sick pay or an equivalent employer-provided scheme.

"From December, courts must also consider imposing a compensation order as part of all criminals' sentences where they've caused injury, loss or damage."