TUC attacks Government over commitment to keep working time opt-out

The
TUC has dismissed the Government’s consultation on the European Working Time
Directive as "hard to take seriously".

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber said the Government had already made its mind
up to resist "an effective crackdown on Britain’s long-hours
culture".

"The
Government should stop defending the indefensible and end the UK opt-out of the
48-hour working week," he said.

Yesterday,
employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe launched a consultation into
long-hours working and the way the individual opt-out from the 48-hour limit
operates in the UK.

He
admitted the Government was committed to retaining the opt-out to "protect
employee choice and workplace flexibility".

The
consultation covers three main areas: ensuring workers have a real choice about
long hours, protecting staff who do work long hours and making sure people know
about their rights. The closing date for the consultation is 22 September 2004.

Almost
4 million people in the UK work more than 48 hours a week on average, according
to the Labour Force Survey.

The
TUC claims the law is widely abused with one in three of those who have signed
an opt-out saying they were given no choice.

By Michael Millar

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