23:24 GMT +319 March 2018
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    Norwegian court seizes Russian trawler Skarus

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    MURMANSK, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - A Norwegian court has seized a Russian fishing boat Skarus owned by a company based in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.

    In late January, the ship's crew, while in the Norwegian port of Kirkenes, went on strike, and three crew members started a hunger strike, over the owner failing to pay them wages of $70,000 in total.

    A fishing industry official, Valentin Balashov, said that not one crew member, including the captain, has a labor contract or other documents entitling them to receive wages.

    "In fact, all agreements were made verbally," he said.

    But the ship owner pledged to pay the fishermen all debts after another ship owned by him, Rustavi, currently in Spain, had been sold.

    Balashov told RIA Novosti by phone Thursday that the ship owner is in Moscow dealing with the Rustavi sale issue.

    "According to information available, he should have paid a small advance, $500 to $1,000, to the crew members and the rest will be paid after the Rustavi sale," he said.

    A trade union of Norwegian fishermen decided to defend their Russian colleagues.

    "The Norwegian trade union filed a lawsuit with a court, which was granted. Recently Norwegian bailiffs and Kirkenes police representatives boarded the ship and seized the main ship documents, without them it will be impossible to sail," Balashov said.

    Balashov said the captain, chief engineer and machinist are still on board.

    He said the situation could develop in two possible ways: either the Norwegian trade union pays the wages to the Russian crew, then sells the seized ship and any remainder will be given to the ship owner; or the ship owner sells the Rustavi and pays the money owed to the fishermen himself.

    "It all depends who is quicker," he said.

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