Labour reacts to Hurtigruten sailing to Svalbard
The Norwegian Labour Party (Ap) wants to investigate whether Hurtigruten is allowed to embark on a exploration cruise to Svalbard without the crew getting Norwegian pay and working conditions.
The passenger ferry “Spitsbergen” started during the weekend on a 12-day trip from Bergen to Bear Island (Bjørnøya) and Svalbard (Spitsbergen). Beforehand, Hurtigruten has transferred the ship from the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register (NOR) to the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS). This means that the company does not have to offer Norwegian tariffs for the employees on board.
– The Labour Party reacts to that Hurtigruten has flagged out a ship sailing along the Norwegian coast in order to pay the crew less, says Ingalill Olsen (AP), who is member of the Transport Committee in the Norwegian Parliament, to NTB.
She will investigate if this is legal.
Foreign port or not
According to the online newspaper Sysla.no, the ship is scheduled to visit six ports along the Norwegian coast before continuing over the Barents Sea to the Arctic Islands. In order to be legally registered in the NIS register, it must call on two foreign ports before or after the stops in Norway.
The Norwegian Seamen’s Association believes Hurtigruten violate the law.
– If Norway has not sold Svalbard, there are no foreign ports on this route, says the Federal Leader, Johnny Hansen.
It is the Norwegian Maritime Directorate which is the control body for this type of affairs. Communications Manager Dag Inge Aarhus will not comment on whether Hurtigruten’s practice is legal.
– The authorities do not conduct approval in advance on sailing routes. It is the responsibility of shipping companies to ensure that they operate in accordance with current laws and regulations. It is assumed that Hurtigruten follows the rules and requirements that apply to its operation, he tells Sysla.
That is not an answer Olsen is particularly pleased with.
– It is not allowed to sail along the Norwegian coast under flags of convenience if it competes with regular shipping providing Norwegian pay and working conditions. Therefore, I think it is strange that the Norwegian Maritime Directorate is silent about what is happening. Haven’t they got a job to fulfill, she asks.
Within the law
Communications Manager in Hurtigruten, Anne Marit Bjørnflaten, states that the company has carried out the same type of operations for several years.
– There is nothing new regarding this cruise. We believe we operate within the legislation, she tells NTB.
Asking if that means that Hurtigruten considers Svalbard as being a foreign port, she answers:
– Svalbard has a special status.
Bjørnflaten will not answer whether the company has discussed the matter with the Norwegian Maritime Directorate.
– We are in continuous contact with the Directorate, but I do not think it is natural to explain which matters we are in contact with them about.
According to Sysla, the ship is scheduled to return to the NOR register in the autumn and re-join regular coastal traffic.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today