Reaction from aging divers who risked their lives during the earliest days of Norway’s offshore oil industry indicates that their lengthy battle for compensation finally may be over. Many seem inclined this week to accept a sweetened offer from the state government.
An official apology for the risks they took and the injuries they suffered, plus another NOK 500,000 in cash, looked likely to be accepted. One leader of the divers said it could bring “a dignified end to an undignified issue.”
The divers have battled on several fronts for compensation for injuries they sustained, both physical and psychologial, while diving to extreme depths beginning in the 1960s. Their groundbreaking work helped establish Norway’s oil industry, but many of the divers were left as shattered men afterwards.
All eight political parties represented in Parliament have now backed a proposal to increase extra compensation to 260 injured North Sea divers or their heirs from NOK 1.7 million to NOK 2.2 million. All the politicians also expressed regret for the risky and hazardous conditions the divers faced while in the employment of both state- and privately owned oil companies that were setting up offshore oil exploration and production operations.
“We accept the increased compensation of NOK 2.2 million,” Henning Haug, leader for the Offshore Divers Union (Offshoredykkerunion ODU), told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “This should put an end to 15 years of battling for us.”