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GMB to call on EU states to reject calls for changes in working time and Agency Workers Laws PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 June 2015

The GMB union is preparing to call on other EU member states not to accede to the Tory/CBI demand to get rid of parts of the Working Time Directive and of the Agency Workers Directive in the UK as part of David Cameron’s renegotiation of the UK relationship with the EU.

John Cridland, CBI Director General, confirmed in the Financial Times on 17 June 2015 that business wants to be able to permanently opt out of the maximum 48 hour working week over a cycle and to change the 2008 directive that compels employers to give temporary agency workers the same pay and conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: "GMB is planning to call on EU member states not to accede to demands from UK employers that there should no limit on how many hours per week workers can be asked to work and that they should be free to pay agency workers much less than direct workers.

Workers in the UK want the rights in The Working Time Directive to stay. That is the right to a minimum 28 day of paid holidays each year, 20 minute rest breaks after 6 hours work, rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; 24 hours off after seven day of work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week over a cycle.

The Working Time Directive is not "red tape" as the CBI assert. It was brought in as excessive hours were identified as the direct cause of the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 35 people died and 500 people were injured on 12 December 1988.

The collision was caused by a signal failure due to a wiring fault. An Independent inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden, QC, found that the signalling technician responsible had worked a seven-day week for the previous thirteen weeks.

The Agency Workers Directive provide that basic employment and working conditions for temporary and  agency workers, after they have been there for 12 weeks, should be equal to those of a directly employed worker doing the same job in the firm they work in.

The aim of this, and the other EU legislation the CBI want to get rid of, is to prevent unfair competition between different member states and to stop a race to the bottom on rights at work.

The CBI need to face up to the concerns a large part of the electorate have over more fundamental problems about Europe. Whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.

The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation and undermining of condition in check.

That dream has been chipped away for years. Right wing governments and employers have engineered a massive change in the direction of the EU vision.

Across the length and breath of the land people know that there is undercutting of wages and conditions by employers exploiting agency labour recruited from poorer areas of Europe.

On Teesside, for example, an employer paying £5 per hour below agreed rates for construction workers insists that 1 in 10 of the predominately migrant workforce who speaks English is identified by a sticker on their hard hats.

Reforms are badly needed to stop this exploitation.

If what David Cameron brings back from the re-negotiations tilts the balance even further away from standards for workers, as the CBI wants, many organizations traditionally in favour will campaign for a No vote."

(Source - GMB Press Release)  


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