Working Time Directive opt-out safe - for now
Posted, April 28, 2009 @ 14:00
Labour MEPs have lost their latest bid to limit the amount of overtime British workers can put in after talks aimed at finding a deal on the Working Time Directive collapsed early this morning in Brussels, Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP, Conservative Employment Spokesman said today.
A "trilogue" negotiation between the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Commission was aimed at finding a way round the impasse that developed after the parliament voted to scrap the opt-out of the 48-hour maximum working week last December.
Conservative MEPs have been at the forefront of the campaign to retain the opt-out, which they argue is about a worker's right to choose. British Labour MEPs have led the charge to scrap our opt-out against the wishes of their own government.
The inability to find a compromise means that the Working Time Directive review will fail and the British opt-out will remain by default. But Bushill-Matthews has warned that Labour MEPs will undoubtedly attempt to end the opt-out again after the European Elections. He has said that the only solution would be to tear up the Working Time Directive and go back to the drawing board.
"The result of this breakdown in negotiations is that the opt-out remains secure until the next time Labour MEPs have a chance to undermine it. Our right to choose our own working hours is safe for now.
"Over three million people in the UK work more than 48 hours a week, and in these tough times it is more important than ever that people should have the free choice of how best to fend for their families. This outcome is good news not just for Britain's retained fire-fighters and care home workers who feared for their livelihoods: it is good news for ordinary workers throughout the area who just want to get on with their job.
"The collapse in these talks is an opportunity to tear up the Working Time Directive. Over half of EU countries want to opt-out of the directive and two-thirds find it impossible to implement. The Working Time Directive is a duff directive and should be scrapped. We do not need a prescriptive Diktat from left-wing politicians dictating how many hours people should graciously be permitted by Brussels to work."