Norwegian Trade Minister Iselin Nybø claims shipping line Hurtigruten has broken Norwegian law by using one of its laid-up ships as a floating hotel and staffing it with low-paid workers from the Philippines, who have neither residence nor working permission in Norway.
The vessel MS Fridtjof Nansen, which also has had Corona infection on board, was moved from Bergen to a fjord in Hellesylt to house film crew during shooting of the news Mission Impossible movie. Labour unions quickly objected to the charter, which also undermines the hard-pressed local hotel business, and won support from the government on Monday.
“We maintain that the business MS Fridtjof Nansen has conducted at the dock violates the law,” Nybø told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday. Hurtigruten claims its accommodation of the film crew is within the law and has support of maritime authorities that otherwise have bashed Hurtigruten for its clumsy handling of a major Corona outbreak onboard another of its ships, the MS Roald Amundsen. Hurtigruten also claims the foreign crew members on board the ship are being paid in line with Norwegian wage standards.
Nybø said her ministry was rushing through a new clarification of Norwegian law, but it won’t be ready until the filming and charter term are over. That means Hurtigruten is likely to get away with its questionable hotel operations, and rake in needed revenues at a time when most of its cruises are being cancelled because of the Corona crisis.