Why is the Working Time Directive a Problem for Cameron?

henningFollowing the big speech on Europe yesterday, there is now a lot of talk about what powers Cameron would like to see repatriated. One area that comes up persistently is the Working Time Directive. I don’t want to be technical here so this is how Wikipedia describes the Working Time Directive:

The Working Time Directive2003/88/EC, is a Directive of the European Union. It gives EU workers the right to a minimum number of holidays each year, paid breaks, and rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week. It was issued as an update on earlier versions from 22 June 2000 and 23 November 1993.[1] Excessive working time being cited as a major cause of stress, depression and illness, the stated purpose of the Directive is to protect people’s health and safety.

So this is the big competitiveness issue and in Tory-speak presumably also the reason why the British economy is staring in the face of a triple-dip recession? Of course together with the turmoil on the Continent that is dragging Britain down (note that exports into the other EU countries are less than 15% of GDP – the domestic market this government is responsible for is more than 70% of GDP).

I sincerely hope that this blatant attack on worker’s rights is getting Britain’s trade unions moving.

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  • Viv Willis

    The question in that should be asked in this context, is why didn’t/wouldn’t the last Labour Government sign up to it in full?