EPSU European Firefighters' Network
Report on working time and retirement
On 12-13 July 2006 EPSU convened a meeting of affiliates who organise firefighters. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in the UK and the aim was to have a number of discussions over common themes and to see what scope there would be for setting up regular meetings of a European firefighters' network.
In the lead up to the meeting the EPSU secretariat, in discussion with the FBU, suggested that a survey on working time would provide some interesting material to discuss at the conference and would be a more focussed theme than a general investigation of pay and working conditions across the sector. A brief survey was circulated to contacts in EPSU affiliated fire service unions across Europe. This covered all aspects of working time including working hours, annual leave and retirement.
Summary tables from the survey were circulated and discussed at the meeting in July. This report provides some more detail from the survey responses, takes account of the
discussions at the meeting and provides more background information, particularly on the Working Time Directive.
There were 14 responses to the survey from Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and
the UK. In some cases we have added information from an earlier survey of European fire services carried out by the Federation of European Union Fire Officer Associations in 2001.
This information is clearly indicated whenever it is used.
The meeting noted on working time that:
- There are many different shift-patterns;
- Not all colleagues are familiar with the provisions of the working time directive, or the
current discussions on its revision, partly in response to several European Court of Justice rulings on what constitutes “working time”; and
- As well as the age of retirement, the meeting felt it was also important to look at the
formula used to calculate the level of pension.
However discussion in the groups did not go much further than noting these different issues and agreed that more time would be needed to digest the information contained in the
working time survey. Furthermore it was clear that there are many differences regarding working time within countries as well as between them. In this case, it could be an idea to
focus on just one aspect of working time - such as, perhaps, the pros and cons of the 24-
hour shift system or the organisation of “on call” working time.