News from and about Ukraine & Ukrainians: Ukrainian Community Press Releases
BRAMA, May 22, 2000, 10:00pm EST
|Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor Class Action Litigation|
Myroslaw Smorodsky, P.A.
A Partnership of Professional Corporations
counsellors at law
75 Union Ave., p.o.box 1705
Rutherford, New Jersey 07070-1705
fax: (201) 507-3970
Vienna, Austria (May 17, 2000) - The representatives of five Central and East European countries – Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine [CEE] - successfully concluded their first plenary negotiation session with the Austrian government on the issue of compensation of forced laborers who were deported to Austria during World War II. Unlike the German negotiations, which had been protracted for over one year, the Austrian discussions were initiated in April on a bilateral basis with each country individually and will, in all probability, be concluded by July with payments to begin before year's end. Austria has announced that they will not only pay former slave and forced laborers in industry, but it will also voluntarily pay farm workers. This is unlike Germany, which leaves compensation of farmers to the discretion of each participating country foundation. In addition, women who gave birth while in forced labor will also be compensated as well as children up to the age twelve who accompanied their deported parents into Austria. The payment amounts are as follows: (valued based upon a 15/1 exchange ratio of the Austrian Shilling to the US dollar)
Children under age 12 can claim the same amount that parents were eligible for.
It is estimated that approximately 220,000 forced laborers who were deported into Austria of are still alive and approximately 43,000 of the victims reside in Ukraine.
The Austrians will be able to achieve such swift results only if they are able to separate the issue of compensation of slave and forced laborers from the property and insurance claims of the other victim claimants. The inclusion of all the various claims into one global settlement was the key factor that caused the extensive time delays in the German settlement discussions. After the forced labor settlement is concluded, the Austrians will then attempt to resolve the property and insurance claims of other victims.
The Reconciliation Foundations that presently exist in each country will make the distribution of compensation to residents within the five CEE countries. Victims who reside outside of these countries will be paid through an Austrian Foundation. The Austrian government will announce global notice of the settlement, eligibility criteria, and the registration process after the negotiations have been concluded.
Myroslaw Smorodsky Esq. Is Legal Counsel to the Ukrainian Delegation participating in the Austrian negotiations and the attorney representing the Ukrainian class in the pending class action litigations.
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