Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament Philip Bushill-Matthews has spoken after the Council of Ministers and European Parliament failed to reach an agreement on the Working Time Directive.
Last December the Parliament voted to end the opt-out - with Labour MEPs leading the charge. Mr Bushill-Matthews walked out of the negotiations at 4am today, and comments:
"It was totally predictable that these negotiations would come to a stalemate. It was a sham discussion going round in endless circles.
It is a positive result because it means the UK opt-out will remain intact by default.
Thankfully the Council of Ministers was not prepared to budge on its position. The political reality is that a majority of EU countries now want the right to opt-out of this duff directive.
There now seems little point in us continuing talks when neither side is prepared to offer concessions.
Labour MEPs had said that there needs to be a good reason why the UK government should keep the opt-out. I can give them over three million reasons: the people who already exercise their right to work overtime.
The underlying problem of on-call time has still not been resolved. The Working Time Directive clearly cannot be reformed so surely it is time to go right back to the drawing board. I would be happy to sit down with the commission and work on such a proposal immediately.
The breakdown in the talks is hopefully a victory for sanity. It is time for Labour MEPs to give up on their endless crusade to stop people choosing to work overtime, and finally move on."
The European Court of Justice has ruled today that workers on long-term sick leave will continue to accrue holiday rights. Philip Bushill-Matthews, who speaks for Conservative MEPs on employment, finds the ruling unwelcome:
"On the face of it this may seem like a good move for employees, but at this present time there is a good chance that it will just add to Britain's already critical unemployment woes.
Employers are already struggling with vast layers of employment law and bureaucracy. This ruling will not only increase employers' costs, but also their bureaucratic nightmare. Small businesses who employ just one or two members of staff will be hit especially hard.
The real issue is not whether or not this is the right decision; it is whose decision it should be. It is a fundamental concern that such decisions about the rights of British workers cannot be made by British courts."
Actually the decisions themselves should be made by the UK Parliament, not by any judiciary.
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