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Thousands of workers face overtime ban after MEPs block Britain’s opt-out of Europe’s 48-hour week

James Chapman
UK Daily Mail [1]
Thursday, Nov 6, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of workers could lose their right to earn extra money working overtime after Brussels voted to scrap Britain’s opt-out from the 48-hour working week.

Labour Euro MPs defied Gordon Brown and backed the move to end our special deal on the issue.

The vote horrified business leaders, who say scrapping the right to work more than 48 hours a week would deal a devastating blow to Britain’s economy just as it enters a recession.

An estimated 1.7million regularly work more than 48 hours – with the tourism and catering industries, farmers, medical researchers and offshore workers likely to be worst affected if a cap is imposed by Brussels.

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Most EU countries are opposed to the opt-out, negotiated by the last Tory government, which they believe gives Britain an unfair competitive advantage.

Today the employment and social affairs committee of the European Parliament voted by a large majority to scrap the deal in three years’ time.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Labour MEP Stephen Hughes, employment spokesman of the Parliament’s socialist group, was among those who voted in favour. He said: ‘It has always been the position of the socialist group to be against the optout on working time because of concerns about health and safety.’

The move leaves Business Secretary Lord Mandelson facing his first big test since his return to the Cabinet.