BT staff settle in repetitive strain case

A COURT case with implications for millions of employees who work with computers has been abandoned and settled out of court, writes Barrie Clement.

Eleven former data processing staff who suffered from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) associated with operating keyboards, have accepted varying ex gratia payments from British Telecom, understood to be about pounds 10,000.

The agreement between the company and the National Communications Union means the legal action has failed to set a precedent for other workers believed to be suffering from RSI. Without admitting liability BT also paid the union's costs.

The case was due before the Court of Appeal this week following a Mayors and City of London County Court judgment 18 months ago which found that their workstations in Swindon and Cardiff in the early 1980s were 'in breach of requirements'. The court awarded pounds 6,000 each to two women involved in test cases. However, the court found that although the keyboard operation was partly to blame, management was not negligent and was not aware of the danger at the time.

In this week's appeal court hearing, management was to contest that BT was in any way liable. The union was to argue against the judgment that BT was not negligent.