Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How the EU Wants to Penalise Hard Work

Dan Hannan speaks for most sane minded people in his post on the ludicrous European Parliament vote on forcing Britain to give up its opt-out on the 48 hour week.
At a time when Europe is sliding into the vortex of recession, at a time when unemployment in Britain is over a million, at a time when employers are desperately looking to make savings, this ludicrous ruling will force a series of new costs onto small firms. It's not the limitation of working hours itself which is most objectionable. It's all the associated bureaucracy: the keeping of logs, the paperwork, the inspections, the opportunity costs. Big corporations, with large personnel departments, can assimilate such expenses easily enough. But for small and medium firms, operating within tight profit margins, this could be the difference between profitability and bankruptcy.

It's true that Britain's opt out gave it a competitive edge, which other EU states naturally resented. But the correct solution would have been for the Continental states to ease their restrictions, not to export them.

Let's remind ourselves of the right to free contract. If I am happy to work for you, and you are happy to employ me, and both of us are content with the terms and conditions, it is no business of the state - let alone of the EU - to come between us and declare that contract illicit.

EU leaders are like children on a beach, so intent on their sandcastles that they are oblivious to the incoming tide. But it's coming, comrades: listen to its roar.

I believe Labour MEPs voted for this in defiance of their own government which apparently wishes the opt-out to continue. I am presuming every Conservative MEP voted against (please don't someone tell me any of them didn't...). Let's hope that Peter Mandelson stands up to his old Brussels mates when this goes before the Commission. Having said that, I am not at all sure of the process this now takes. Anyone care to enlighten me?


Mitch said...

I was talking to my boss about this particular lunacy and came up with a way round it,you tick all the silly boxes,fake the paperwork and adjust your rate to cover the OT.
Wage slips show 40 hours but the rate will vary.

Unknown said...

If I want to work for 50, 60 or 70 hours a week, I will. These right on tw*ts need to f*ck off out of our lives...

Unknown said...

There will now be conciliation talks between the Council (ie Member States) and the Parliament to reach a compromise. If that cannot be reached, the directive will not be enacted unless the Council unanimously decides to enact it, disregarding the EP.

TheBoilingFrog said...

It's all right for MEP's they get paid regardless of the hours they work - or by claiming as much expenses as they can get away with, from an EU budget that has still not passed the auditors after 14 years.

What if we disagree with this? How can we change this policy - we can't.

This is just another example of how Britain is no longer democratic.

We're currently living through the perfect example of how democracies are never overthrown but simply given away to dictatorships and no-one cares until it's too late.

(Sigh!) history repeats itself always.

Mr Mr said...

It's bad enough having the UK government interfering in your life all the time but why is a distant European economic trade organisation telling me what I should or not do?

Is it legal?

Unknown said...

"Let's remind ourselves of the right to free contract. If I am happy to work for you, and you are happy to employ me, and both of us are content with the terms and conditions, it is no business of the state - let alone of the EU - to come between us and declare that contract illicit."

Which is exactly why prostitution should be legalised.

Unknown said...

@ mrmr

Yes, the measure is entirely legal. It comes under the provisions that should ensure a level playing field in the provision of services en the freedom of employees to work anywhere in the union. Them measure is therefore entirely legal. That being sad, I think this is a prime example of something that could be arranged at national level. The subsidiarity close is there for a reason...

Jimmy said...

Why don't you look at exactly what Hannan appears to be saying? That the state should not have any role whatsoever in setting terms and conditions of employment. That has not been the legal position in the UK for centuries. Wasn't the whole point of Cameron's reinvention to drive out flat-earth extremists like this? Looks like he still has work to do. Probably more than 48 hours worth.

T England. Raised from the dead. said...

I think this might be good!
It seems your average person hasn’t really took much notice or maybe hasn’t worried enough as Labour has given Britain away to the EU to change & manipulate, it’s like Labour had slipped the public some of the carefree laa dee flipping daa pills like they take!
We can only hope that the average members of the public when seeing the EU mess DIRECTLY with their cash snap out of their dream & get mad like never before, this could be one big wake up call to Mr & Mrs average that the EU monster is real & out to get them.

The public are only just starting to feel the pain of the recession & as has been said, being told how many hours you can work is just too much especially at this time.
I’m getting mad just thinking that some jumped up nobody from the EU with delusions of grandeur can dictate such a thing.

Iain my comrade!
I hear the roar!

Anonymous said...

what if you're not content with the terms and conditions? but you need a job? there is a reason why employers need limitations - to stop ruthless exploitation of workers.

greed is not good - and anyway I'm sure most people will be on 3 day week soon - the way things are going...

Shaun said...

As a freelance web developer, I'd simply bill a higher rate for notionally fewer hours actually computed against my standard hourly rate for however long the job would've taken. Good luck with the bureaucracy!

strapworld said...


Perhaps the Tories need a change of policy on the EU?

You cannot change the EU from the inside. It is socialism pure and simple.

To get us out of all this mess - we should rediscover our Commonwealth again and make 'Made in Britain' a wanted label!

Lola said...

I work for myself. In effect I work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, because even when I am not actually in the office I think about my business all the time. How are they ever going to translate that into a tick box?

There is only one word that sums up the EU regulationists - wankers

JMB said...

I hope the MEPs include their travelling time to and from Brussels when they calculate their own working hours as we would want them to exceed their average of 48 hours.

Gordon Broon will presumably be taking some time off as he must have exceeded his average with trips to Afghanistan and Iraq.

JMB said...

I hope the MEPs include their travelling time to and from Brussels when they calculate their own working hours as we would want them to exceed their average of 48 hours.

Gordon Broon will presumably be taking some time off as he must have exceeded his average with trips to Afghanistan and Iraq.

George said...

Let's face it: the sooner Britain gets out of this corrupt and criminal association, the better off it will be.

The EU is not about democracy. Not at all. Its open-border policy has brought crime to the continent not seen since 375.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with Lola: they're a bunch of wankers.

Man in a Shed said...

This also shows you how "opt outs" are to be dealt with.

the issue is considered under a heading where majority voting applies and quietly abolished.

Opt outs are really just delayed concessions, which is what makes Gordon Brown's made up "red lines" so deceitful in the Lisbon Treaty he skulked over to sign.

Doubting Richard said...

Here's irony. Under EASA (the European Aviation Safety Association), an organistion given legal basis by the EU, I have had our company flight-time limitations scheme approved. This allow me and our other pilots to be on duty for 55 hours in any seven days.

Of course as management I am mostly salaried and never get paid by the hour, and many of my hours are not logged. So this is completely meangingless.

Mike Wood said...

Labour MEPs have consistently voted for the scrapping of all UK opt-outs from the Social Chapter and Working Time Directive.

Unknown said...

It is hardly a surprise Labour MEPs supported the further removal of powers from parliament. Both Labour and the EU have always regarded democracy as a dangerous concept, and will always do their utmost to stamp it out. As the last 11 years have shown. And the EU wasn't set up to be democratic anyway, as the Irish, French, Dutch and Czechs have learned at last.

David Boothroyd said...

The vote is on page 58 of this document. Analysis follows.

David Boothroyd said...

UK MEPs voted:

Support 18: Elspeth Attwooll (L Dem), Richard Corbett (Lab), Bairbre de Brun (SF), Jill Evans (PC), Glyn Ford (Lab), Mary Honeyball (Lab), Richard Howitt (Lab), Stephen Hughes (Lab), Jean Lambert (GP), Caroline Lucas (GP), Linda McAvan (Lab), David Martin (Lab), Claud Moraes (Lab), Eluned Morgan (Lab), Brian Simpson (Lab), Peter Skinner (Lab), Catherine Stihler (Lab), Glenis Willmott (Lab)

Oppose 53: Jim Allister (TUV), Richard Ashworth (C), Robert Atkins (C), John Bowis (C), Sharon Bowles (L Dem), Philip Bushill-Matthews (C), Martin Callanan (C), Michael Cashman (Lab), Giles Chichester (C), Derek Clark (UKIP), Trevor Colman (UKIP), Chris Davies (L Dem), Nirj Deva (C), Andrew Duff (L Dem), James Elles (C), Robert Evans (Lab), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Neena Gill (Lab), Fiona Hall (L Dem), Daniel Hannan (C), Malcolm Harbour (C), Chris Heaton-Harris (C), Roger Helmer (C), Ian Hudghton (SNP), Caroline Jackson (C), Saj Karim (C), Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ind), Glenys Kinnock (Lab), Timothy Kirkhope (C), Roger Knapman (UKIP), Sarah Ludford (L Dem), Liz Lynne (L Dem), Edward McMillan-Scott (C), Ashley Mote (Ind), Mike Nattrass (UKIP), Bill Newton Dunn (L Dem), James Nicholson (UU), Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (L Dem), Neil Parish (C), John Purvis (C), Alyn Smith (SNP), Struan Stevenson (C), Robert Sturdy (C), David Sumberg (C), Charles Tannock (C), Jeffrey Titford (UKIP), Gary Titley (Lab), Geoffrey Van Orden (C), Diana Wallis (L Dem), Graham Watson (L Dem), John Whittaker (UKIP), Tom Wise (Ind). Syed Kamall (C) sent in a later correction indicating his intention to oppose.

Not voting 6: Gerard Batten (UKIP), Christopher Beazley (C), Godfrey Bloom (UKIP), Philip Bradbourn (C), Den Dover (Ind), Jonathan Evans (C), Arlene McCarthy (Lab).

Anonymous said...

'If I am happy to work for you and you are happy to employ me'. This assumes an equivalence of power, but power is usually on the side of the employer. This means the 'happiness' sought may be very different for each party. Take the US as an example. That nation has ridiculously short annual leave conditions, which I would not be happy to accept under any conditions, because I want to take time off work. Yet if I lived in the US and tried to negotiate different leave terms I would probably find that I couldn't get a job. The power is with employers to set the terms of employee leave, not the other way round. Would I be 'happy' to get a job with US leave entitlement? I'd surely have no meaningful choice in the matter. Meanwhile in Australia the previous right-of-centre government tried to lower employment conditions by removing 'award' wages and introducing individual workplace agreements. They called it 'Workchoices' but it was massively unpopular and lost the government the election. Those who took part in the pilot version were routinely exploited by the power imbalance between individuals, who are usually fairly constrained in their employment choices due to skills, location etc, and employers, who can usually take their pick of several interchangable employees. The 'workchoices' turned out to be on the side of the employer, not the employee.
'If I am happy to work [longer] for you' works fine as long as I remain happy, but what later happens when I want to work shorter hours? Even more 'happiness'? I think not.

the joker said...

I remmber 'Oliver' asking for more because he disputed the terms of reference. His employer was none too pleased.

The other 200 waifs ate their gruel as though it were a three course meal.

I gather, Iain, you are a Conservative.

Letters From A Tory said...

I'm normally a fan of Dan Hannan but he was completely out of line on this issue. He compared the EU Parliament to Hitler's regime in Nazi Germany, which was an absolute disgrace and he should be ashamed of himself.

Chris Paul said...

You are still registering spurious links from rolling blogrolls Iain.

Meanwhile Dan Hannan and yourself should know better. It is the poor and underpaid that bear the brunt of open ended hours and who are more likely to experience the industrial accidents and illness that results from over-work.

Though any of us can get shunted by a driver who falls asleep at the wheel through over work or cheating the hours by not counting their driving time as work.


Unknown said...

While Chris Paul's comment seems quite reasonable, he then seems to remove himself from the real world, by engaging in this hyperbole...

'Just consider the next HGV to plough into a school crossing, the next gas explosion or wiring fire caused by doziness, the next multi-car pile up caused by the traveling rep nodding off, the surgeon killing dozens of children on the operating table through fatigue-begotten incompetence, the moonlighting or double shifting firearms officer shooting someone in error, the private ambulance driver that is also a hard-working engineer and knows neither first aid nor in their tiredness the way from scene to hospital.'


Colin said...

Are you sure the labour lot voted in defiance of the government?

It would be politically convenient for the regime to use their muppets in brussels to take the heat on this. I would not be surprised if this was part of the payback the unions demanded in return for continuing to bankroll labour.

philip turner said...

predictable wave of comments from people who see this purely as an issue of defending national sovereignty against the evil e.u.

the e.u. is not in this case simply "wanting to penalise hard work", they are actually wanting to penalise exploitation, nice dramatic post title though it got me reading it!

arguing that people can pick and choose their own contracts that they work for is all well and good, say that to someone who has been desperately looking for work for 6 months however and they will tell you that they will accept anything that comes along

mitch's comment (#1) up there argues that bosses would falsify documentation in order to get round this legislation, if the legislation is not there what is to stop them feeling justified in exploiting workers in the first place, particularly in the current financial climate

T England. Raised from the dead. said...

For all those ranting on about exploting workers!
Where the hell do you think we are?
Some third world country (ok were heading that way, but!)?
Hasn't Labour done enough to stop explotation of the workforce in 11 years?

So just Stop it will ya!

The EU is a monster that needs killing END OFF!

Have a nice day :o)

4x4 the people said...

or answer (b) - we live in rich societies in which there is no evidence that increased wealth through working longer hours (or gambling) leads to increased happiness except of course for hard-core Tories for whom happiness invariably is correlated with working weekends.

Did anyone die wishing the had spent longer at the office?

Chris R said...

"Let's remind ourselves of the right to free contract. If I am happy to work for you, and you are happy to employ me, and both of us are content with the terms and conditions, it is no business of the state - let alone of the EU - to come between us and declare that contract illicit."

This marvellous expression of the free-market contract theory encapsulates all the lunancy of capitalist right. If you are poor, without qualifications and without any assets, you don't work freely and happily in your McJob - you do so to avoid destitution and starvation. And you'll quickly find that your employer holds all the aces.

Unless of course Dale is advocating here a radical redistribution of wealth and power to make contracts fairer, or a welfare safety net that means no on has to take a job out of fear and desperation any more?

These laws are designed to protect the most vulnerable people in our society, the ones who work back-achingly hard cleaning toilets in hotels and hoovering office complexes, from Dover to Inverness.

If you agree with the free market contract theory, as Scrooge did, it must be very hard to celebrate Christmas. Or anything at all.

Chris Paul said...

If it is hyperbole to point out the sorts of scenarios that ACTUALLY RESULT from moonlighting and over-work then I confess:

I am utterly hyperbolic.

One example of moonlighting non-ambulance men driving an ambulance in a high profile case was the AMI (I think) ambulance which took PC Blakelock to hospital. The local ambulance station had been closed by Tories. The driver and assistant in the ambulance had other jobs and little or no medical training.

I'm not saying he would have lived had there been real paramedics and a real ambulance. But another officer injured at the same time did live despite being taken to hospital in a fire engine. That fire engine had to stop for directions several times IIRC.

An of course tired drivers behind the wheels of HGVs and cars cause accidents every single day. Ditto surgeons and other medics.

This is about health and safety not freedom to self-exploit.

TheBoilingFrog said...

Re: philip turner.

No this is not a case of national sovereignty, but the fact the EU is anti-democratic. If the majority of people in this country disagree with this decision or any other EU decision how can they change it?

The answer is they can't, the 'elected' EU parliament has no power, we the voters can't change EU Commissioner's minds (the real chaps in charge) because we can't vote them out.

Sorry for sounding old fashioned but I criticise the EU because it's not democratic, look at Ireland and the EU Treaty - 'we don't like your answer so vote again', exactly the same as the French, Dutch etc had to do...

Perhaps you agree with one-party state dictatorships which is exactly what the EU is becoming...I don't, but then, Philip you know best, I'm just a humble voter who pays taxes what would I know about democracy?

David Boothroyd said...

Ghanimah, the EU is not 'anti-democratic'. Amendments by the European Parliament do count towards the final decision, but the real power in the EU lies with the Council of Ministers which comprises the member state governments.

It's a requirement that a state be a democracy before it is admitted in the EU, and so all these member state governments have been chosen by their respective electorates to express their views in the EU. Democracy is expressed through them.

The Commissioners have very little actual power; they do however have the unique ability to propose new legislation.

Roger Thornhill said...

strapworld: absolutely.

Lola: indeed.

Chris Paul: Idealistic wibble.

If you bring in a daft law, people will bypass it. The working hours directive IS a daft law. It infantilises and punishes all in case some are harmed.

For all the sanctimonious bleating about low paid workers is the same for the minimum wage. Imagine, you are poor, cannot get anything other than BELOW MW work becasue that is all your labour is worth. Answer? You are unemployable, work illegally, are more likely to be exploited and probably also claim JS/IB.

If you get around MW, now you cannot do more than 48 hrs a week. You are STUFFED. Shoved into a little box by the patronising Left. What if you WANT to work more than 48 hours? Anyone running their own business does more than that. I worked 10+hr days 7 days a week for 8 months straight. I was younger then, yes, but what is the problem? If I did not do that I would have lost my reputation at work, missed the deadline, lost chances of promotion. I was not on OT. Was I exploited? My call. Is it the business of the State? NO.

Oh people you think are infants will be exploited. Ok. have them unemployed then. Happy? Have the company that would have given them work shut down because it is uneconomic. Happy? ~I think you would be, Chris. That is the kind of person you are, I suspect. Better people be prevented from working in case they might be exploited, eh? That is the big problem with the Left/namby-pamby idea of "protection". What we need is DEFENCE - if someone is truly being exploited, the exploiter will expect to get caught and punished. Until that happens, leave everyone alone and desist from collective, preemptive punishment (an Authoritarian wet dream of both left and right).

Britain lost competitiveness and JOBS because we had laws that presumed to "protect" jobs and incomes. We lost both.

A limit on working will just send more jobs outside the EU. Better that Britain keeps its veto and so we might be a bit more competitive than the rest of the EU and so gain as a nation. Stuff the rest if they are TOO STUPID to realise they are digging themselves their own graves. I don't care if the rest of the EU adopts this daft law - just leave us horrid Anglo-Saxons (or at least those of us who have managed to grow a pair) alone.

If Chris Paul wants to be patronised and treated like an infant, i am sure there is someone he can hire (for a max of 48 hours a week, natch) to wrap him in a nappy and bottle feed him pap.

TheBoilingFrog said...

Re: David Boothroyd

Firstly: the EU is not democratic because it has executive power over our country given without our consent, for example the European Court of Justice – their decisions take precedence over any judiciary we have. The EU ruling over DNA samples is a perfect example. Whatever you think of this EU ruling, it’s irrelevant because we have to abide by it regardless - undemocratic

Secondly: the EU elections do not produce a government, so the parliament has no power or authority to execute a mandate on behalf of its citizens. It cannot, for instance, decide to repeal any EU laws – it cannot even initiate any laws. Those powers lie with the commission. Therefore, the candidates cannot produce manifestos in any meaningful sense of the word, as they have no means by which they can deliver on promises made.

Thirdly: British MEPs cannot represent the interests of their voters because there’re not enough of them to do so - in a parliament of 732 members, Britain elects only 78.

Fourthly: The EU Council legislates separately from the EU Parliament They receive proposals from the unelected Commission, asking them to impose directives on EU citizens. They then turn these proposals into laws, depriving their own governments and thus citizens of power.

An obvious example of the ‘rubber stamp’ reality of the EU Parliament, is when Britain has a General Election all legislative bills are killed until a new Government is elected / formed, yet during EU elections when the EU Parliament should be suspended, the directives’ keep on coming and are implement by the EU Council.

The views and votes of EU Citizens are irrelevant as copious EU referendums prove over and over again.

David Boothroyd said...

Ghanimah, I'm afraid you're wrong on the basic facts. First, the UK accepted when entering the EC that European court judgments would be supreme over domestic courts, and this was implicitly ratified in the 1975 referendum. If you believe in respecting referendum results then this one committed the UK to being a member of the EU without any time limit.

Second, the ruling on the DNA database was the European Court of Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the European Union.

Third, are you seriously saying that the UK ought to have a majority of European Parliament members? That's ludicrous. Each member state has to be of equal status.

Fourth, you ignored the point that the votes in the Council come from the member state governments who are themselves elected. If you accept rule by the UK Parliament, you have only one member whom you elect and the other 645 are chosen by the people living in different areas.

Jimmy said...

"What if you WANT to work more than 48 hours? Anyone running their own business does more than that."

Is someone trying to stop them?

Slagella said...

Women down the mines!
Children up the chimneys!

TheBoilingFrog said...

Re: David Boothroyd

The 1975 referendum was one that promoted Britain to join the Common Market, not to a federal Europe. In fact Heath said at the time it was no more than 'a trading issue', a claim that is contradicted by his many Whitehall officials, as pointed out in documents released under the 30 year rule – he knew he was signing up to a federal Europe, a point not made clear to the British public at the time. Would they have agreed to that - I would guess a strong no.

Plus your point still doesn’t negate the EU’s refusal to accept the copious referendums across Europe rejecting further political integration – they are proceeding regardless. Still undemocratic

Your second point still doesn’t negate mine that Britain no longer has any authority over its own country, thus the electorate have no power.

Thirdly: I’m not saying in an EU parliament, Britain should punch above its weight, rather that Britain and other country’s should govern their self and represent their own people, which under the current EU system doesn’t happen

Or perhaps you think France and Germany should have a say in how our country's run. Do you think they would hold the same view if we told them how to run their own countries - of course not.

Regarding your fourth point, the EU Council undermines the system of Parliamentary democracy, because it essentially exists as a Soviet Union-style Politburo with 27 Ministers dictating the laws for 500 million people, which under no circumstance is justifiable. There’s no conceivable mechanism which such a small committee could fairly represent the views of so many people.

These Ministers are not even directly elected by the people, they are appointed by others who have been elected (Another parallel with the Soviet system), more specifically one man - the Prime Minister and you could further argue that the Prime Minister is not even directly elected and is merely appointed by others who have been elected.

So from that essentially the Council Ministers are appointed by others who were appointed by others who have been elected. This shred of democratic legitimacy is grossly insufficient to justify the huge amount of intrinsic power which is delegated to them.

As I’ve indicated, I who runs their own business don’t agree with 48 hours so how do I get it changed? The answer is; I can’t.

While our Parliamentary Democracy is not perfect at least it’s better than the EU equivalent. I can persuade my MP to do something, as the 10p tax row proved; ‘if you don’t change it you lose your seat’, what f**king option do we have with the EU if we disagree – none!

David Boothroyd said...

Sorry, Ghanimah, but that is ahistorical. 1975 was whether to stay in the European Communities, with an understanding that it would continue to develop. At that time, the side of the debate calling for a pure trading arrangement was the side calling for a 'No' vote; the 'Yes' vote side argued that such a thing was not enough and a political aspect was needed as well.

Your claim that 'Britain no longer has any authority over its own country' is stated in such extreme terms that it is blatantly false.

As for your point about the European Parliament, it is ludicrous. I'm a Londoner. London has 74 seats in a Parliament of 646, so it is only a small minority. Why should we be outvoted by non-Londoners? Answer, because we are all part of the same country. Just as with Europe, we are all part of the same European Union, through our own free choice.

The Politburo of the USSR was not comprised of Ministers from elected governments. And you are in exactly the same position with a decision of the UK government you don't agree with as you are with an EU decision you don't like.

T England. Raised from the dead. said...

Good debate but! Blimey!
Some people just wont admit that we are run, dictated to & fleeced by the the EU & no matter how much the public don't wont to be used & abused by the EU, Labour ARE going to let it happen, the public are fed up with hearing the false argument that we rule ourselves when we quite clearly DON'T!

Labour can shout all they like that we aren't OWNED by the EU but that just shows their delusional state of mind when it comes to the EU monster.


T England. Raised from the dead. said...

The debate above is just the sort of debate we need & can now have on a blog like this being run & moderated in a sensible way.
Nice one Iain :o)

Nikostratos said...

right to free contract are u dreaming if that was still the case there would be children sweeping chinneys..........

the worlds moved on and it aint going back best get used to it

while you are all at it tell me how many of youse have ever rode the blister end of a shovel for 12 hours a day...Oh! i know as i thought