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Firefighters win High Court case over 96-hour shifts

JUDGES at Manchester’s High Court slapped down firefighting bosses in a dispute over working hours today, ruling their 96-hour duty rotas unlawful.

The case was brought by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) against four South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service stations, which operate a close proximity crewing (CPC) shift system — but the judgement could affect dozens of fire authorities with similar setups.

Honourable Justice Kerr said the CPC does not comply with regulation 10 of the Working Time Directive, which states that a worker is entitled to a rest period of 11 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period in which they work for the employer.

FBU assistant general secretary Andy Dark hailed the ruling as a “tremendous success.”

He said: “It is inconceivable that any chief officer or fire and rescue authority would have in place arrangements which mean that firefighters could be mobilised to deal with incidents having already spent up to 96 hours on duty.

“Firefighters carry out work under dangerous conditions and often the incidents we attend are long and arduous, examples of this include the response to the Grenfell Tower fire and protracted flooding incidents.

“South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has already spent far too much public money on legal fees defending the indefensible.

“We expect the fire and rescue service to return the affected personnel to the negotiated 2-2-4 duty system as soon as possible.

“We have little doubt that the fire and rescue authority will threaten to reduce fire cover across South Yorkshire as a result of this ruling.

“The fire and rescue authority is sitting on a mountain of cash reserves and there is no reason to make further cuts to the emergency fire cover for the people of South Yorkshire.”

The 2-2-4 system is two days (9am-6pm), two nights (6pm-9am) and four days off.

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