Why is the Working Time Directive a Problem for Cameron?

henningFollowing the big speech on Europe yesterday, there is now a lot of talk about what powers Cameron would like to see repatriated. One area that comes up persistently is the Working Time Directive. I don’t want to be technical here so this is how Wikipedia describes the Working Time Directive:

The Working Time Directive2003/88/EC, is a Directive of the European Union. It gives EU workers the right to a minimum number of holidays each year, paid breaks, and rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week. It was issued as an update on earlier versions from 22 June 2000 and 23 November 1993.[1] Excessive working time being cited as a major cause of stress, depression and illness, the stated purpose of the Directive is to protect people’s health and safety.

So this is the big competitiveness issue and in Tory-speak presumably also the reason why the British economy is staring in the face of a triple-dip recession? Of course together with the turmoil on the Continent that is dragging Britain down (note that exports into the other EU countries are less than 15% of GDP – the domestic market this government is responsible for is more than 70% of GDP).

I sincerely hope that this blatant attack on worker’s rights is getting Britain’s trade unions moving.


  1. Viv Willis says

    The question in that should be asked in this context, is why didn’t/wouldn’t the last Labour Government sign up to it in full?