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Former Slave Laborers Fight German Bid for a Settlement

Former World War II slave laborers under the Nazis said yesterday they would fight a joint plan by the German government and industry to set up a compensation fund, saying the proposed settlement was an attempt to bypass their claims.

"The survivors are ready to work toward a solution - but they will not be shut out and the German government cannot stop their claims," the group said in a statement faxed from their lawyer's US office.

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Before taking office last month, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's government said government and industry would work out a plan to settle the back-wage claims.

But the survivors are calling on the German government to recognize their right to settle their claims individually or on a class-action basis.

New York-based lawyer Ed Fagan and Munich-based Witti will accompany representatives of the group to Frankfurt today and tomorrow, where they will press their claims.