Rescuers: Cutting costs further will affect our work
The employees of the Rescue Board are worried that in the course of making it more effective, the board might actually be damaged. There was no more room for cost-cutting, and burdening personnel with ever more tasks was affecting the quality of their work, representative of the employees’ union Toomas Suigusaar said.
The Rescue Board’s director, Kuno Tammearu, had said that despite having laid off 120 staff over the last year, there had been no negative influence on the board’s work. Tammearu also mentioned that if needed, further cuts would be possible.
Commenting on this, Suigusaar said that the workload was increasing for those still around, as someone had to do the work of all those who had been laid off. “Yes, we can fashionably call this increasing efficiency, but adding to the workload influences the quality of work negatively, increases stress, and damages the health of staff,” Suigusaar said.
Increasing efficiency in practice meant that new tasks and responsibilities had been added to existing jobs, he said, and that there was no end in sight of the increasing pressure on individual positions.
Suigusaar also pointed out that fewer rescue personnel meant making the Rescue Board’s services less available for citizens. “In case of a call we drive farther, and with fewer people, which can mean delayed arrival of help, and insufficient means,” he said, adding that a typical rescue team consisted of four staff, as with this number rescuers could help each other in a potentially difficult and dangerous environment. Today, this number was often reduced to three.
Suigusaar stressed that the employees of the Rescue Board were empathetic about its management having to deal with an ever smaller budget. But they also insist that no further cuts are possible without damaging the quality of work.
The question was, Suigusaar said, whether it was still about increasing efficiency, or slowly getting rid of the board altogether. “It can’t be that there’s no money even for the rescuers’ work clothes,” he said.
“We’re at the point where we need to decide what kind of rescue services the Estonian state wants. This is where we look to the decision makers among MPs and in the ministries. The ball’s in their court. Make a decision,” Suigusaar added.