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Working Time Directive

5.12.2005

Well the EU took a bold move today by ending the exemption granted to britain to opt-out of the 48 hour maximum work week. It a move we should all welcome, despite groans about competitiveness and productivity. The beeb reckon approx 4million workers in the UK work in excess of 48 hours a week. This represents 1/7 of the entire workforce. finally these workers have some guarantee of a limit to the time worked and some limited protection of their own private time.
This decision was taken as i am sure you are all aware against the background of a new expanded EU. The demoliton of the opt-out sends a signal across the breadth of the continet that no exceptions can be tolerated on the standards EU workers are entitled to. i am conerned not to wax too lyrical about the EU but such broad standard imposition is welcome. The state of the world now requires a strong EU to impose standards on corporation and business not the other way around.
This move is a step in the right direction, you know when the tories are up in arms we gotta be doin something right.
however i am struck by the degree to which the EU is willing to sign its own death warrant. A move like this is going to be presented as a move to usurp British sovereignty and all other negative connotations connected with europe. this is bound to be yet another nail in the coffin of the EU constitution, a move many of us may not lament but which will be returned to later.
this move goes some way to guaranteeing rights for EU workers. its not perfect but by cutting down on opt outs it makes business conform to not get around laws and rights.
the Eu is the only political body within which we have any clout which can seriously influence the actions of big business. this is a victory for social europe but it is a small one and one which will have to be built on to defuse views of it as a vehicel for capitalist exploitation.
Red Rover

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