Назад Rights of volunteer firefighters: Council of Europe concludes that France is in violation of the European Social Charter

Rights of volunteer firefighters: Council of Europe concludes that France is in violation of the European Social Charter

In a new decision the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) concludes that France is in violation of the revised European Social Charter on the ground of the discriminatory difference in treatment with regard to remuneration between certain volunteer firefighters (VFF) and professional firefighters (article 1§2), and the failure to take into account the totality of working time performed by volunteer firefighters, as well as the regulatory vacuum related to their working time (article 2§1). The Committee also concluded that there is a violation of the Charter, considering that involvement of young VFFs in fire suppression operations is not absolutely necessary for their vocational training, and that the measures taken to protect the health and safety of these young persons are insufficient (Article 7§2). The decision follows complaints (No. 176/2019 and No. 193/2020) brought by Union Syndicale Solidaires SDIS v. France.

In its two complaints, Union Syndicale Solidaires SDIS (SUD SDIS) alleged that the lack of recognition of the status of workers to volunteer firefighters (VFF) pursuant to Articles L723-5 and L723-8 of the Code of Internal Security, does not allow SPVs to enjoy their rights relating to just conditions of work, to safe and healthy working conditions and to protection of health, among others. SUD SDIS pointed in particular to the risks involved for young VFFs, who take part in field operations in accordance with Articles R723-6 and R723-10 of the Code of Internal Security, despite the dangerous nature of the firefighting occupation recognised under Article L723-1 of the Code of Internal Security.

SUD SDIS therefore alleged that the legal situation of VFFs does not meet the requirements of Articles 2 (the right to just conditions of work), 3 (the right to safe and healthy working conditions), 4 (the right to a fair remuneration), 11 (the right to protection of health) and 24 (the right to protection in case of dismissal) read alone as well as of Article E (non-discrimination) in conjunction with Articles 2, 3, 4, 11 and 24 of the revised European Social Charter.

 The European Social Charter and France

European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) Strasbourg 14 February 2024
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