>> 28 April 2009


Scottish National Party Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the news that the current threat to retained firefighters from the EU’s working time directive has been removed.

Eilidh Whiteford visited Fraserburgh Fire Station in February along with Ian Hudghton MEP and Broch councillor Brian Topping to meet staff and discuss the threat from the EU directive.

The European Parliament’s vote to end the UK opt out on the working time directive had caused concern particularly among retained fire fighters unions. SNP MEPs have called for future discussion on work time issues to support both workers rights and the provision of public services.

Talks broke down after attempts to reach compromise on ending the UK opt out from the package, the definition of on call time and issues over multiple contracts failed. There will now be no changes ahead of the European elections.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This is excellent news and it will come as a great relief to the firefighters I met in Fraserburgh recently.

“I was left in no doubt by what I heard during my visit that we had to do all we can to save the retained duty system from the threat it faced.

“We are very fortunate to have such dedicated firefighters like the ones I met in Fraserburgh who also serve their community in this way in addition to their own full-time jobs. The consequences of losing such a dedicated band of people who serve in this way would have been unthinkable.”

Fraserburgh & District SNP councillor Brian Topping, who is also a member of Grampian Fire & Rescue Service Joint Board, said:

“I’m very grateful to our MEPs Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith who have been strongly supportive of our firefighters from the outset.

“This has been a matter of great concern to the Fire Board for some time so I’m pleased that we have achieved a positive outcome today.”

SNP MEP Alyn Smith added:

“It is far better that we have no deal, than rush a bad deal through before the elections.

“In Scotland we’ve got what it takes to protect both public services and workers rights and the end of these negotiations gives us the opportunity to see legislation that works for Scotland, not damages us.

“Where other parties have scaremongered and sought to exploit this issue SNP MEPs have given Scottish concerns a voice in Europe, voting to protect Scottish interests and working with the Scottish Government. In the next Parliament we will continue to support our essential services and our public sector workers.”

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