North Sea divers display dignity, aplomb / News / The Foreigner

North Sea divers display dignity, aplomb. STAVANGER: The Norwegian government’s unveiling of a plaque dedicated to the pioneer divers and surviving relatives was a sombre and dignified affair. Some 250 people attended the event hosted by the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, Tuesday. Museum director Finn E. Krogh, Progress’ (FrP) Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, and the Party’s Labour and Social Affairs Minister Robert Eriksson were among those who spoke. “A major sense of loss”

divers, oil, northsea, norway



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North Sea divers display dignity, aplomb

Published on Monday, 17th November, 2014 at 06:41 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 17th November 2014 at 10:10.

STAVANGER: The Norwegian government’s unveiling of a plaque dedicated to the pioneer divers and surviving relatives was a sombre and dignified affair.

Divers and families listening to speeches
Divers and families listening to speeches
Photo: ©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


Some 250 people attended the event hosted by the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, Tuesday.

Museum director Finn E. Krogh, Progress’ (FrP) Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, and the Party’s Labour and Social Affairs Minister Robert Eriksson were among those who spoke.

“A major sense of loss”

Finance Minister Siv Jensen was second to take the podium. Her Party, Progress (FrP), is part of the bipartite Centre-Right coalition with the Conservatives (H). Progress was not in power during the 1965-90 so-termed pioneer years, but oversaw the 2013-14 compensation payment rounds.

“The matter of the North Sea divers is an important chapter in the tale of Norway as a young oil nation,” said Ms Jensen. “It is a tale about the young men who applied to work at a unique workplace in the depths of the sea, who wanted to be part of the Norwegian oil adventure.”

She spoke of the divers’ testing new equipment and technology under extreme conditions.

Minister of Finance Siv Jensen
Minister of Finance Siv Jensen
©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
Many of them could look back at a long and good North Sea career, according to her. But many were injured and suffered health problems.

“The North Sea divers have fought for [compensation for] many years. Unfortunately, there were several who took their own life along the way. Surviving relatives and the bereaved were left with a big sense of loss, and major questions that deserved answers.”

A royal committee regarding the divers was appointed in 2004. That year saw the first round of compensation payments of 2.4 million kroner each. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled against the Norwegian State, ordering a damages-only payment to each diver/family of a further 8,000 euros.

In June this year, Norwegian parliamentarians voted unanimously to pay 2.2 million kroner to each of the divers/families following a governmental proposal.

“A united parliament expressed a major political and moral apology to divers, their bereaved, and others who were affected by events that they experienced during the pioneer period,” Finance Minister Jensen stated.

“That’s why we are drawing a dignified final line under a long and painful matter, a matter that has proceeded over far too long a period. The lasting, commemorative plaque that we are going to unveil here today at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum forms part of parliament’s decision.”

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Robert Eriksson
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Robert Eriksson
©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
The Minister added that the plaque documents the respect and gratitude felt concerning the divers for their efforts towards Norway’s wealth.

“We appreciated that they travelled out, and they are also to be appreciated when they return ashore,” she declared.

Permanently injured

Robert Eriksson, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs for the Progress Party, reiterated much of what Siv Jensen said when he spoke from the podium.

Describing Stavanger as being “the door to the North Sea”, he referred to the extraordinary efforts that both Norwegian and foreign divers made.

The Minister also mentioned divers losing their life, suffering lifelong injuries. Some became apparent years after they had completed their assignments.

“Surfacing from the deep could be just as demanding. Days and weeks were spent inside compression chambers. Things went well for many, others paid a high price.”

“And many have lost a father, a husband, a brother, a son. The families were not just affected by the assignment, they were also part of it,” Minister Eriksson pointed out.

Commemorative plaque to the divers
Commemorative plaque to the divers
©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
The memory of, and strong impressions from meeting and talking with some of the families personally is something that he would take with him for the rest of his life, he said.

According to him, this is why the government has “a particular political and moral responsibility towards the North Sea divers”, calling Tuesday “a dignified end to the North Sea divers matter.”

“Only you fully know what it has cost in terms of loss, suffering, and sorrow,” concluded the Minister, before unveiling the commemorative plaque together with Finance Minister Siv Jensen.

One of the divers’ surviving son and daughter told The Foreigner afterwards that they were satisfied with the ceremony at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.

Relatives left behind following fatal occurrences queued up in a dignified and fashion to receive an extra token of recognition from the government.

There are still some families that say they have not received compensation, however, The Foreigner has been told.

The government says it draws a final line under the matter with the unveiling of this plaque. What response will be given, and measures taken regarding questions and claims from divers or the bereaved in the future?

Divers and families queuing to receive picture
Divers and families queuing to receive picture
©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Robert Eriksson referred the question to his advisors present at the event.

“Both the government's proposal for following-up former North Sea divers and parliament's treatment of the matter are considered as being the final conclusion of the case of the North Sea divers. In keeping with parliament’s decision, it is decided that the royal committee for the pioneer divers will be concluding its affairs from 15th January 2015. Any new cases must be treated as ordinary occupational injury compensation cases,” senior Ministry bureaucrats answered in their email the following day.



Published on Monday, 17th November, 2014 at 06:41 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 17th November 2014 at 10:10.

This post has the following tags: divers, oil, northsea, norway.





  
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