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EU Commission: Yet another assault on workers' rights

Left organises hearing in Lisbon, 10 December

2 December 04

The European Commission's proposal to reform the Directive governing working time this week reached the European Parliament where it must be amended or approved in parallel with its consideration by ministers of the member states.

The proposal would, according to the United Left Group of 41 MEPs, constitute a serious setback to workers' rights. Speaking for the Group, Ilda Figueurido MEP of the Portuguese Communist Party said that "in the name of flexibility in the management of working time, it would introduce a new concept, 'the inactive period of time on call', which would not be counted as working time.'" It would also represent a "de facto extension of the reference period of four months, the length of time used to calculate working time, which could be as long as twelve months if national legislation permits." This would mean that workers would be allowed to put in extremely long hours for part of a year provided this was balanced by shorter hours elsewhere. In addition, individual derogations from the maximum working week would be permitted, under certain conditions allowing this to be extended to 72 hours.

Ms Figueurido said: "The adoption of these proposals would lead to greater flexibility in working time and an increased conflict between the length of the working day and considerations of health and safety of workers, for whom it would become more difficult to reconcile their working lives with their family responsibilities or their participation in the broader society."

On 10 December, the GUE-NGL will organise a hearing on the proposals in Lisbon. Contact ifigueiredo@europarl.eu.int for more information.