GUE/NGL
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Revised working time directive detrimental to workers’ rights

A hearing organised by GUE/NGL yesterday on certain aspects of the European Commission's proposed revision of the working time directive flagged up some of the proposal's weaknesses. A public consultation is currently underway until 15 March before Commission makes its final proposal.

The European Parliament rejected the proposed revision of the working time directive in 2008, largely as a result of the strong and determined opposition by workers in several European countries.

At this stage, some of the most detrimental proposals against workers' rights include the establishment of the “opt-out” clause – the possibility, through individual agreements with workers, to remove the ceiling on weekly working time – and the so-called “Dwell Time”, in other words “on-call teams” in certain professional activities, where workers are available to the employer but which would not be counted as working time.

Ms Wiebke Warneck attended the hearing on behalf of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) as well as several representatives of trade unions and social organisations from different countries including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany,  Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Belgium.

Concluding the hearing GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber said: “In the current context a review of this directive would mean greater flexibility in working hours, a greater extension of the reference period for calculating average working time and more exceptions to collective work contracts. The existing directive has many harmful aspects in respect of workers' rights, but we also know that any revision by the European Commission will make it even more detrimental to workers”.