Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Working Time Directive will cost billions

Earlier today I wrote about the EU Parliament voting to abolish the UK's opt-out of the EU Working Time Directive. Predictably, the majority of MEPs voted to abolish the UK's opt-out even though it has nothing to do with their own countries.

Bizarrely, the European Parliament has voted against the European Council and European Commission and decided to include on-call in working time for the purposes of the directive.

So what does this mean? Let me put a personal perspective on this act of lunacy ...

I work for a large multi-national supporting a couple of IT systems for a government department that require 24 hour support. The systems are predominantly supported by myself and another person on-site during core hours of 8am and 6pm. To provide the 24 hour support, we take it in turns to be on-call at home and go into the office if something goes wrong.

From my employers point of view this decision by the European Parliament drops them in the brown stuff because they will have to employ another four people to provide 24 hour support for these systems.

From my own point of view this decision drops me very deeply in the brown stuff because being on-call supplements my income by several thousand pounds a year. With a wife and four children to support, I'm going to rely on tax credits to plug the gap.

As is so often the case with decisions emanating from our masters on the continent, the rights that they parade in front of us as examples of the benefit of EU membership aren't really rights at all, they're obligations. Workers in the UK currently have the right to refuse to work more than 48 hours per week but that's not good enough for the eurocrats who insist that workers exercise their "rights" whether they want to or not.

Abolishing the opt-out is going to cost the UK billions. The cost to the taxpayer alone is going to be huge in topping up wages and paying increased costs for PFI projects and contracts with private companies.

I wonder if this is another one of those obvious benefits of EU membership the British government talks about when anyone questions why we're paying billions of pounds a year to belong to the EUSSR.