Martin Callanan, MEP for the North East, has written elsewhere on ConservativeHome about the Working Time Directive today. His colleague Philip Bushill-Matthews, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, has issued a press release.
Labour MEPs oppose the UK’s opt-out from the Directive. On Wednesday MEPs will vote on whether to scrap the opt-out. Doing so would require at least 393 MEPs to vote for its abolition. Mr Bushill-Matthews comments in advance of a debate this evening:
"Britain needs the opt-out more than ever.
We will be working up to the last minute to win support for workers’ rights to choose their hours, rather than having them dictated by socialists who claim to represent them.
Labour MEPs must now back British businesses and workers, who are struggling to make ends meet. Many people choose to work longer hours to provide a better life for themselves and their families, and politicians should be helping them rather than getting in the way.
Gordon Brown must read his MEPs the riot act this week – before it is too late."
It may seem counter-intuitive or even slippery for Mr Bushill-Matthews to couch his position as one supportive of workers’ rights. But whilst the work/life balance matters hugely, he is right that restrictions imposed from above (and elsewhere, as it’s an EU Directive) are not helpful. This is all the more important in the current economic climate.