Foreign sailors’ compensation case progresses slightly / News / The Foreigner

Foreign sailors’ compensation case progresses slightly. STAVANGER/VALENCIA: Norwegian officials agree to meet the aggrieved retired Spanish seaman as part of the ongoing pensions and tax dispute. An Oslo-based law firm also wishes to discuss potential legal action. The several decades-old matter concerns Spanish sailors recruited to work aboard Norwegian merchant fleet vessels between 1950 and 1994. Spokesperson for The Association of Spanish Sailors in Norway Long Hope, Alberto Paz Viñas, has stated that some 12,000 Spanish sailors paid taxes to Norway during that period. They were not entitled to social security payments, however, according to him.

spain, sailors, pension, tax, norway, ships



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Foreign sailors’ compensation case progresses slightly

Published on Thursday, 6th November, 2014 at 07:14 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 22nd January 2015 at 09:03.

STAVANGER/VALENCIA: Norwegian officials agree to meet the aggrieved retired Spanish seaman as part of the ongoing pensions and tax dispute. An Oslo-based law firm also wishes to discuss potential legal action.

The Royal Viking Star in Bermuda, 1989
Sister ship to the Royal Viking Sky, on which Spanish seamen served for the Norwegian merchant fleet. She was in service for Royal Viking Line from 1972-1991 and is now Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' MS Black Watch.The Royal Viking Star in Bermuda, 1989
Photo: Terageorge/Wikimedia Commons


The several decades-old matter concerns Spanish sailors recruited to work aboard Norwegian merchant fleet vessels between 1950 and 1994.

Spokesperson for The Association of Spanish Sailors in Norway Long Hope, Alberto Paz Viñas, has stated that some 12,000 Spanish sailors paid taxes to Norway during that period. They were not entitled to social security payments, however, according to him.

Both independent research foundation Fafo and former Minister of Labour Hanne Bjurstrøm concluded that people must be Norwegian citizens or residents and employed on a Norwegian ship in order to be eligible for receiving a pension.

In September of this year, Long Hope representatives had meetings with officials in Spain to discuss their claim of unjust treatment by the Norwegian government.

They met with Joaquin Nieto from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel García-Margallo, and the Norwegian Ambassador to Spain, Christopher Johan Vibe.

A petition with over 108,000 signatures supporting the seafarers and documents the Ambassador had previously not been aware of were presented to him.

Accommodating move                          

The first Parliamentary Ombudsman, Arne Fliflet, closed the Norwegian side of the case in 2013. This was because “it was concluded that “the Norwegian taxation of the Spanish citizens was imposed in accordance with the prevailing tax treaty between Norway and Spain and internal Norwegian tax law at the time.”

“The authorities have stated that Norway neither wants to, nor deems it feasible, to enter into any bilateral agreement with Spain in order to accommodate the claims now launched by the Spanish seamen,” a copy of the official letter The Foreigner has seen states.

However, officials go on to say that the case would be re-opened “for the sake of good order as regards certain aspects of the possible applicability of human rights.”

The Association has threatened to take their case to the UN Court of Human Rights should a satisfactory solution not be reached.

“A complex matter”

Aage Thor Falkenberg took over the case as the Second Parliamentary Ombudsman. This happened after Mr Fliflet informed Parliament that “he was not prepared to be reappointed for a new term,” another document shows.

The new Parliamentary Ombudsman asked Norwegian authorities in September 2014 to find a fair and just solution.

Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Spain in Oslo Raul Bartolomé commented to The Foreigner about the matter’s current status quo.

“We’re obviously at their [the Association’s] disposal, but legally, it’s a very complicated case,” he says. “Any legal proceedings would [also] be very expensive.”

“We’ve been studying the case, and it might be possible to avoid these via bilateral negotiations. We’re still studying the formula regarding compensation, and have to subsequently present it to the Ministries Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Labour and Social Affairs.”

“At the same time, the Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman is very interested in the case, and reopening it gives the authorities possibilities,” states Mr Bartolomé.

Legal help                     

Alberto Paz Viñas and other Long Hope representatives are travelling to Oslo this month to talk to various governmental and labour organisation officials in person between 14th and 22nd.

Their preliminary schedule includes meetings with The Norwegian Seafarers’ Union, Spanish Ambassador Antonio López Martínez, President of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) Gerd Kristiansen, and EU Ambassador to Norway Helen Campbell.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Thor Kleppen Sættem, representing Minister Robert Eriksson, will meet Mr Viñas and others on 17th November, Ministry officials confirm.

Lawyers from Grette DA law firm in Oslo also wish to meet with the Spanish delegation of seafarers with a view to any possible legal action.

“The purpose of this meeting would be to get better acquainted with your case and the persons involved, and discuss potential organising types and forms of funding in case of a future lawsuit,” an email from them states.




Published on Thursday, 6th November, 2014 at 07:14 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 22nd January 2015 at 09:03.

This post has the following tags: spain, sailors, pension, tax, norway, ships.





  
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