date: 10 June 2008
Commenting on the outcome of the EU's Social Affairs Council, which reached agreement on an Agency Working Directive and changes to the Working Time Directive, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'This adds up to good news for people at work in the UK. The agreement on agency work is a major step forward in delivering a fair deal at work for UK agency workers and a real breakthrough on an issue that has been stalled at EU level for many years.
'While we are disappointed that the UK opt-out on the 48 hour working week remains, there has been real progress on other working time issues.
'Employers will no longer be able to put pressure on staff to sign away their working time protection for four weeks and there will be an absolute limit of a 60 hour average week for most of the workforce - affecting more than 400,000 workers. All these measures have been opposed by employer lobby groups.
'Nor has the UK government won a permanent opt-out, despite its energetic campaign. The opt-out will be reviewed again in the future.
'While there will need to be detailed negotiations, and attention to the small print, the EU has once again proved an important route to better working conditions and employment rights.'
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Issued: 10 June, 2008