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Votes on working week directive may squeeze workaholics

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Votes on working week directive may squeeze workaholics

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Liberal working Britain is facing the prospect that companies may no longer be allowed to ignore the European maximum 48-hour working week.

The European Parliament today is set to propose ending the UK’s fiercely guarded opt-out from EU law. British conservative MEP Philip Bushmill-Matthews, with the European People’s Party-European Democrats, the largest group in Strasbourg, argues the question of working time should remain a national prerogative: “We may not win an overall majority, but certainly we will not be alone. We will have a very very large part of people who say that the opt-out must be kept. Individuals should have the right to choose for themselves how long they work; It should not be for politicians in Brussels to dictate to them.” The working time directive limits how many hours a week people can work across the 25-nation bloc. Spanish socialist MEP Alejandro Cercas wrote Parliament’s report in the matter: “All European workers are affected because, even if there are countries with better standards, if we approve the “opt out” in the end it would mean other EU states would have very long days. We therefore run the risk of endangering health and safety and (the level playing field) for competitivity among the member states.” If parliament votes to scrap the opt-out, Britain would have to build a blocking minority among EU governments in the EU Council; It will have the final say.