Spanish sailors continue Norway tax repayments, pensions fight / News / The Foreigner

Spanish sailors continue Norway tax repayments, pensions fight. STAVANGER/VALENCIA (UPDATED): A Spanish seafarer association alleges that their sailors are entitled to compensation from Norway after having worked on Norwegian vessels. Their claims go back several decades and have seen several rounds. From 1950 up to 1994, Spanish sailors were recruited to work for the Norwegian merchant fleet. During this time, the sailors were paying taxes to the Norwegian government. The Norwegian merchant fleet did not have an adequately-sized workforce, therefore employing about 12,000 Spanish sailors over the course of 44 years.

spain, sailors, pension, tax, norway, ships



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Spanish sailors continue Norway tax repayments, pensions fight

Published on Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014 at 21:10 under the news category, by Susanne Tunge Østhus and Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 22nd January 2015 at 08:58.

STAVANGER/VALENCIA (UPDATED): A Spanish seafarer association alleges that their sailors are entitled to compensation from Norway after having worked on Norwegian vessels. Their claims go back several decades and have seen several rounds.

MV Boudicca leaving Tallinn in 2013
This vessel used to be named the Royal Viking Sky, and was in service for Royal Viking Lines between 1973 and 1991. Spanish seaman served on her. She was then renamed the MV Boudicca, entering service for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in 2005.MV Boudicca leaving Tallinn in 2013
Photo: Pjotr Mahhonin/Wikimedia Commons


From 1950 up to 1994, Spanish sailors were recruited to work for the Norwegian merchant fleet. During this time, the sailors were paying taxes to the Norwegian government.

The Norwegian merchant fleet did not have an adequately-sized workforce, therefore employing about 12,000 Spanish sailors over the course of 44 years.

The Association of Spanish Sailors in Norway Long Hope has arranged a meeting on Thursday 25th September in Valencia with Joaquin Nieto from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to discuss their claim of unjust treatment by the Norwegian government.

The day after, the association will be meeting in Madrid with the Norwegian Ambassador in Spain, Christopher Johan Vibe, as well as the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel García-Margallo for further discussions.

Spokesperson for the Long Hope association, Alberto Paz Viñas, says their first claim was sent by letter to the Ministry of Finance almost 30 years ago.

“We’re going to be presenting the Norwegian Ambassador with a 108,000-signature petition backing our claim,” Mr Viñas told The Foreigner by phone. “We’ve collected a lot of documents from Norway’s National Archives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Spanish Ministry of Labour.”

“These documents are unknown to Ambassador Vibe, and we want to sense his opinions in order to solve the case,” said Mr Viñas, adding that Spanish TV and newspaper journalists will be at Friday’s meeting.

According to a 2012 Fafo report (external link, in Norwegian), Norwegian legislation from 3rd December 1948 outlines that the person must be a Norwegian citizen or resident and employed on a Norwegian ship to be eligible for receiving a pension.

Former Minister of Labour Hanne Inger Bjurstrøm wrote in a letter to the Long Hope Association in 2012 with similar conclusions.

“Regarding old-age pension, foreign seafarers employed on board Norwegian vessels did not earn pension rights under the National Insurance Act if they did not reside in Norway or one of the other Nordic states. A further consequence was that no pension contribution was levied,” the letter reads.

Mr Viñas was a sailor himself and started working in Norway at the young age of 17 years. He worked in Norway for 14 years before he moved on to working in Denmark. He says the association will continue its fight until it shows results.

“Some were working up to 15 years on Norwegian ships. They have been deprived of a fundamental right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO),” he stated. 

They would settle for either receiving a pension, or getting a refund for the taxes they paid to the Norwegian government.

“Spain was once the most numerous nation working on Norwegian ships, some 12,000 people. We were allowed to pay taxes, but not receive social security payments,” concluded Mr Viñas. According to him, Norway owes refunds for several hundred million euros.

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs officials tell The Foreigner in an email that “there has been a process between the Spanish seafarers who worked on board Norwegian registered vessels prior to 1994, their organization, the Long Hope Association, and the Norwegian authorities for several years.”

“Initially, the Spanish sailors raised a claim for old-age pension. Then, a request for reimbursement of paid taxes was made, and now the request is again about old-age pension. The Ministry is of the opinion that the Spanish sailors in question do not have any legal rights to old-age pension from the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme or any other Norwegian pension scheme, and has no further comments upon this matter.”                                       

According to them, “the Norwegian ambassador to Spain will, as usual, represent Norwegian interests [at Friday’s meeting]. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will not be represented at the meeting.”




Published on Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014 at 21:10 under the news category, by Susanne Tunge Østhus and Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 22nd January 2015 at 08:58.

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





  
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