TUC petition Europe over UK work-time opt-out

The
TUC is to present a dossier to the European Commission (EC) today demanding it
toughens up working time rights.

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber will present the information to EU social
affairs commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou in Brussels calling on Europe to:


end the UK’s opt-out from the European Working Time Directive, which allows
employees to sign away their right to work no more than 48 hours a week on
average


stop the UK counting bank holidays against Europe’s four-week minimum paid holiday
rights  (other EU countries give their
citizens more than four weeks paid holiday in addition to public holidays)

The
EC is about to publish a review of the operation of the working time directive
in the UK.

The
TUC dossier claims that lax enforcement and the individual opt-out means the
directive has had minimal effect in the UK. It says UK full timers work the
longest hours in Europe, with just under four million UK workers still working
more than 48 hours a week and more than half a million working 60 hours – the
equivalent of seven and a half eight-hour days a week.

Barber
said: "It’s about time the European Union made sure that its working time
rules made a difference in the UK. We want action on three fronts: a tougher
enforcement regime; stopping employers counting bank holidays as part of
minimum holiday rights; and ending the opt-out that lets employers coerce staff
into signing away their rights. It’s about time we tackled Britain’s long hours
culture."

By Quentin Reade

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