TALLINN - Despite a recent announcement made by the Estonian Rescue Worker's trade Union claiming that many rescue personnel could leave their posts come January due to a shortened shift from a 24-hour to 12-hour working day, it is unlikely that a general strike is in the works, according to Kalev Timberg, Director General of the Rescue Board.
In November Parliament introduced new legislation that regulates the working conditions of rescue workers and will make it a priority to raise their remuneration by about a third in 2008.
Regardless of the forthcoming salary hike, some members of the service, who would need to give up side jobs in order to accommodate the new regulations, have not greeted the decision warmly.
However, Timberg says it is not likely that rescue workers will strike. "Of the 2,670 rescue workers currently employed by the service, only about 30 - 40 workers are likely to leave, which is not significant enough to cause concerns for a strike," he said.
The change to a 12-hour shift, affecting the majority of rescue workers, was made in order to boost worker effectiveness and reduce health risks. Its basis was an operational analysis carried out by the Rescue Board.
About 300 servicemen from the first group rescuers will continue to follow a 24-hour shift while the majority of servicemen, including rescue service officials, who help plan and coordinate rescue operations, and the de-mining crew will make the change to a 12-hour shift.
According to the Interior Ministry, it is a state budget priority to raise the salaries of rescue workers to competitive levels by next year. In 2008 not a single rescue worker should receive fewer than 9,000 kroons per month. Third group rescuers, whose work is the most intensive, will receive 15,266 kroons and Rescue Service officials will receive an average of 14,556 kroons per month.