JUNE 3, 2005
An important victory for Britain
The United Kingdom has won an important battle in the European Union over the "opt-out" clause of the European Working Time Directive. The European Parliament voted in May to get rid of the clause by 2012, forcing British workers to adhere to rigid working hours rather than allowing the workforce to be more flexible. The European Parliament and a number of EU member states want a working week of only 48 hours. The UK has opposed the rule, arguing that it would effect the coluntry's competitiveness and wants people to have the right to work additional hours if they want to do so.
The motorsport industry is particularly dependent on willing workers and it was estimated that getting rid of the opt-out clause would have increase racing budgets by as much as 40% because of the need for more people to be hired.
The British unions are in favour of the opt-out but do not have the power to pressure the government. In Europe union power is much stronger but the economies are generally weaker, in part because change is so difficult.
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