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Swedish firefighters call for exemptions to ban on 24-hour shifts

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Over 2,700 Swedish firefighters have signed a petition in protest against new working hour rules that will come into effect this autumn. The European Union’s decision means the end of the 24-hour shift that firefighters in Sweden have traditionally worked.

The directive mandates that employees must have 11 hours of rest during a 24-hour period. This could mean that schedules change for firefighters and that they are prohibited from working 24-hour shifts. Instead, they will have to work more shifts per month.

According to one of the proposals that have been put forward, firefighters must work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, from 19:00 to 07:00, resulting in a difficult schedule for firefighters, with three consecutive overnight shifts.

A group of independent firefighters has now started a petition targeting the country’s 5,000 full-time firefighters. So far, almost 3,000 firefighters have signed the petition, demanding exemptions for emergency services. Firefighters warn that the new rules will lead to worsening working conditions and an increased risk of mass redundancies.

According to Magnus Krantz, ombudsman for the National Association of Firefighters, the parties must try to negotiate an exception for community-supporting functions, including the rescue service. However, SKR, which represents the employers, said that an exception is not possible, with head of negotiations Jeanette Hedberg saying that it is not a free choice to follow the directive.

Patrick Falck, a firefighter at Ekerö fire station and petition signee, said he believes that the new working hours make it more difficult to combine the profession with parenthood.

Falck also said that he is considering changing professions, and he is confident that many of his colleagues will follow the same path. The new rules may have disastrous consequences on the firefighters’ profession, and negotiations between parties continue as they try to find a way to address the firefighters’ concerns.

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