News from and about Ukraine & Ukrainians: Ukrainian Community Press Releases
BRAMA, Nov. 30, 1999, 10:00pm EST
|Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor Class Action Litigation|
German Forced Labor Settlement at a Crossroads
On November 17, 1999, the sixth in the series of negotiations between representatives of forced/slave laborers and German Industry ended without the negotiators finding a solution that would be acceptable to both the victims and the companies. The date and time of the next crucial meeting has not been established but it is anticipated to occur before Christmas of this year.
Although both sides have made considerable concessions in their respective positions ,the negotiators find themselves at a crossroads where an inappropriate or obstinate move by anyone of the numerous parties can torpedo the negotiations into failure.
The negotiators are fully cognizant of the fact that failure would deprive hundreds of thousands of victims of any hope of compensation whatsoever. On the other hand, German industry would be bogged down in numerous lengthy legal battles (which even if they were resolved in favor of Germany) would expose German industry to public scrutiny and criticism for their actions during World War II.
Previously in October of this year, German negotiators had offered a total settlement of 6 billion DM. At the November Bonn meeting, after intense closed-door negotiations between each of the individual victim groups, German representatives and US Government negotiators, German industry increased their offer to 8 billion DM. Although these individual negotiation sessions were aimed at dividing the victims groups, the Eastern European delegation and the Plaintiff’s lawyers were able to maintain a unified position and stated that this new offer was still insufficient. The Germans’ negotiators also reversed their prior position and stated that their settlement offer would not be based on compensating agricultural and domestic workers. However, the negotiators for both sides made it clear that any settlement payments that would be made to the individual country delegations would be in a lump sum and it would be at the discretion of each of the Eastern European delegations to include farm workers in the individual compensatory payout if they so wished.
The November negotiations in Bonn concluded with both sides putting forward their anticipated range of settlement: 6-10 billion on the German side and 10-15 billion on the victim side. Both sides were cautiously optimistic that the next meeting in mid December should see the success of the negotiations.
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