Firefighters win working time case

Finland

Five firefighters are set to receive a total of almost half a million euros in compensation following a victory in a legal case on working time supported by their union, JHL. The city of Jyväskylä will have to pay the unpaid wages and the costs incurred by the union. The Labour Court ruled unanimously that the firefighters should have been paid in full for working time for periods on standby. In a system in force between January 2004 and the end of March 2016, the firefighters were required to arrive at the fire station within five minutes of the alarm being sounded. The court ruled that five minutes was such a short time that it left the firefighters with no choice but to stay in the immediate vicinity of the fire station. According to JHL the lawsuit could have been avoided if the KT municipal employers’ organisation had listened to the workers’ and union’s demands in the negotiations. The union also accused the employers of discriminating against the five workers by denying them the right to work standby shifts, leading to a loss of income. Six other cases are pending in other parts of the country involving 44 firefighters supported by JHL.