Changes to European working time laws could lead to dangerous shortages in fire cover in Clitheroe, Cllr. Allan Knox has warned.
The European Parliament recently passed rules that would scrap Britain’s opt-out from the European Working Time Directive. This could mean that retained firefighters, who often have other jobs, would have to drastically cut the hours they are available to the fire service.
Retained firefighters, such as those in Clitheroe, can spend up to 120 hours per week “on-call” – in their own homes or at their regular workplaces, but are there if we need them in emergencies.
An EU Directive limits working hours to 48 per week – and this includes the time retained firefighters spend on call. Up to now, British workers have been able to opt out of the Directive. That right is about to be taken away.
The rule changes would not affect most other EU countries where part-time firefighters work on a voluntary basis and are therefore not covered by the opt-out.
Commenting, Clitheroe Cllr. Allan Knox said: “People mustn’t be penalised for choosing to stick to working time hours, but neither should people who want to help in their communities.
“Retained firefighters are a crucial part of Clitheroe’s emergency services.
“The fact the rules wouldn’t affect voluntary firefighters elsewhere in the EU is simply unfair.
“Clitheroe Liberal Democrats are campaigning hard to keep the opt-out for retained firefighters and ensuring the emergency services are able to provide a flexible and high-quality service.”