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Liberal Democrats leading in Europe to protect UK's working time opt out

April 15, 2009 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have been leading the fight to keep the British opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.

South East MEP Sharon Bowles and her Liberal Democrat colleagues in the European Parliament were fierce opponents of removing the opt-out on the Working Time Directive, and voted against it in Parliament on the 17th December 2008.

Unfortunately the rule change was passed with the support of UK Labour MEPs. Tory MEPs opposed Liberal Democrat amendments to make any British opt-out truly voluntary for workers.

Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne is now working with ministers in the UK government in negotiations with the European Council to keep the UK opt-out. Liz Lynne was the shadow rapporteur for the Directive and tabled many amendments against it in Parliament. She is the only British politician involved in the negotiations.

Sharon Bowles said: "Removing the UK's opt-out from the Working Time Directive would a thunderbolt to British businesses and for that reason I was strongly opposed to it.

"Employment flexibility is necessary, especially in hard economic times. What is more, the NHS and emergency services cannot be expected to function as efficiently as they do under these strict working time rules.

"We who oppose this Directive have to stand behind Liz Lynne as she negotiates with the Council to keep the opt-out."