THE 1880 Employers Liability Act, which was of particular concern to miners and railwaymen, only went part of the way advocated by the TUC It gave the worker a general legal claim for damages arising out of injury or accident at work; but the employer was still able to evade responsibility if the injury was caused by a worker "in common employment" with the victim. Only much later, in 1897, did the Government completely accept that compensation of the victim or his dependants for industrial accident or injury must be met by industry, no matter how the accident had been caused. Even then, seamen were excluded from this protection.
Meanwhile, during the 1870s, the seamen gained some benefit from the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876, sponsored by Samuel Plimsoll, whose "Plimsoll Line" was designed to protect them from the hazards of over-loaded vessels. But, though copies of Plimsoll's book, "Our Seamen", were passed round the Trades Union Congress of 1873, little was done to create a national seamen's union until 1887.
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