Thursday, 18 December 2008

British opt-out from 48-hour working week defeated in Strasbourg

Britain’s opt-out from the EU’s 48-hour working week was soundly defeated in a vote by the European Parliament today, with many Labour MEPs voting against the Government’s attempts to keep the measure first won by John Major in 1993.

The defeat marks a humiliation for Gordon Brown who signed up to a parallel agreement to give temporary and agency workers full employment rights after just 12 weeks in the hope of a deal to save the British opt-out from the EU working time directive.

It will trigger last-ditch talks between the European Parliament and the 27 EU member states on the directive although the two sides are a long way apart. They have until May to reach a compromise or the entire revised directive will fall, leaving the status quo — and the British opt-out — in place.

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