Monday, June 06, 2005

Opting Out Remains An Option!

The EU Parliament's controversial proposal for the removal of the UK's "opt-out" from the maximum 48 hour working week under the Working Time Directive has bitten the dust after the Government managed to obtain enough support in the Council of Ministers to prevent the matter being put to a vote.

The matter is unlikely to be raised again in the foreseeable future, especially as the UK is about to take over the EU presidency and given the general uncertainty as to the future direction of the EU in the wake of the rejection of the proposed EU constitution by French and Dutch voters.

Business leaders have reacted positively to the news and are keen to stress the competitive edge which the "opt-out" gives the UK, combined with our remaining outside of the "Euro zone."

Trade Unions, who have long campaigned for the end of the "opt-out", have expressed their disappointment at the loss of an opportunity to put an end to the UK's perceived "long hours culture", although employers would point out that many of those working the longest hours are high-earning, well motivated staff working those hours because they want to.

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