April 14, 2021

Spanish sailors against wind, tide … and against Norway | Economy

Spanish sailors against wind, tide ... and against Norway | Economy

The lives of some retired sailors are almost as hard as the years they spent at sea. Some 80 Galician ex-sailors who served the Norwegian merchant fleet between 1948 and 1994 have demonstrated this Wednesday in Madrid to demand, once again, that the Nordic country pay their pensions. There are about 12,000 people affected throughout Spain, who demand that the Government of Pedro Sánchez defend them.

"Seven months at sea, one with the family and back to the sea. That's how life was, and now that it could be enjoyed … ", laments Manuel González, 75, while holding a banner before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to claim his retirement, five degrees centigrade in Madrid and the sky is covered. and the rest of the protesters – ex-mariners, widows and children – have traveled all night from Galicia to shout their claims. "Spain be decent and defend your people" and "we do not want compassion but a quick solution" are some of the slogans that They have chanted this morning.

González, who left home at 18 to look for his life, sailed almost two decades on Norwegian ships. "They took 40% of our salary," he says. Your case is similar to that of 12,000 Spanish sailors who worked for Norway until 1994, when the Scandinavian country signed the treaty of the European Economic Area and assumed the community regulations on Social Security. "After all, on top of that, we have to be here," he says angrily. "We are no longer in age, if they help us, we finish faster," he appeals to the government.

"Let's see if we recover it before we die, I have little left," says the widow of an ex-Mariner

They have 105 demonstrations in four years, according to their spokesman, Alberto Paz, and in February expect an Oslo court to decide on their case: "Nor we plan to win any trial in Norway, we've already had two and we've lost them. In the enemy's house, we will not look for anything. We have hopes placed in the Human Rights Tribunal [TEDH] in Strasbourg. "The Spanish Government has assured, as stated in a parliamentary response, that the Executive" will appear before the ECHR as an intervening third party, in support of the just pretensions of the Spanish sailors. "Until then, the Administration had only received "unfulfilled promises", he says.

"With the PP, nothing, let's see if they help us now," says Carmen Juncal, 64, and at her side, Josefa Pérez, 74, agrees. Sheltered up to the nose, they accompany "manifestation after manifestation". Now, in front of the Congress, they make the second stop of the day to shout: "Dead in the sea, widows without charge". Their husbands, former sailors, have already passed away and they continue their struggle. "They spent 48 hours working without a bed, left their families to navigate," says Perez, who is hopeless: "Let's see if we recover before dying, I have little left."

"Fellows, whistles and flutes, please," says the speaker, who is the president of the association that groups them, Long Hope. They arrive at the Norwegian embassy, ​​the last stop. Carlos Otero has attended on behalf of his father, who worked ten years on a ship with the Norwegian flag and has not charged a penny. On the other hand, he does receive pensions for having sailed for Swedish, Dutch and German ships. "Norway considers that, as [los exmarineros] they had no residence, so they had no right, "explains Otero." But the Norwegians who sailed with them did. It is a discrimination ", continues and advances to hold one of the banners." Norway, scavenger, your greed without limits has been our injustice! ", Shout the 80 before returning to Galicia.


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