Unions urge MEPs to fight excessive working hours in UK

Unions have urged MEPs to protect workers from excessive working hours ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels today (1 April).

The conciliation committee meeting will take place between delegations from the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, and hopes to reach an agreement on whether the UK can retain its opt-out status from the Working Time Directive.

A deal has yet to be reached between the UK government, which wants to retain an opt-out clause, and members of the European Parliament which wants it scrapped.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said union surveys showed most employees wanted an end to working more than 48 hours a week.

“It is hard to justify employers’ claims that the UK needs long hours working at a time when many workers are being made redundant or put on short-time,” said Barber.

“It is about time that employers thought about improving productivity rather than continuing to demand excessive hours. Exhausted employees simply cannot produce top quality work.”

Last month, the CBI warned of ‘dire consequences’ for businesses if no opt-out clause was included.John Cridland, deputy director-general said limited working hours would replace “opportunity with obstruction”.

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