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EU Working Time Rules must not threaten our Firefighters

March 2, 2009 8:30 AM

Hinckley and Bosworth Liberal Democrats have warned that proposed changes to European Working Time Directive laws backed by Labour MEPs could lead to dangerous shortages in fire cover.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of proposals to 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.

Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament, Liz Lynne, has led the campaign for many years to keep the UK's opt out.

And she has been backed by Liberal Democrats in Hinckley and Bosworth who are worried about the level of fire cover if retained firefighters are forced to cut the time they give to the service.

Michael Mullaney, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Bosworth said: "Retained firefighters provide a vital, lifesaving service in many of our local communities and this must be allowed to continue.

"The UK's opt out of the EU Working Time rules must be kept so long as it is voluntary, and this applies not just to firefighters but to all workers who decide that they want to work extra hours.

"Scrapping the opt out would not only damage our fire service but would hurt many working people and businesses who are trying to make ends meet in the current difficult economic times. Workers are of course already covered by current Health and Safety rules."

People can sign an online petition in favour of keeping the opt-out for firefighters at http://www.scotlibdems.org.uk/keeptheoptout/