Brussels, 28/04/2009

ETUC General Secretary John Monks said: ‘This is certainly not a victory for social Europe. We regret that it was not possible to reach an agreement that would have meant genuine social progress in Europe; for that, the individual opt-out should have clearly been put on hold and be recognised as a temporary exception that does not have its place in health and safety legislation. Also, the situation of the millions of European workers with on-call duties in sectors such as healthcare should have been properly safeguarded.

{However, we agree with the European Parliament that, unfortunately, an agreement was not possible. A group of countries has become so much addicted to the individual opt-out that, by now, they consider it as their fundamental right to keep it forever. This is unacceptable for the majority in the European Parliament and the trade union movement.

The European Parliament has played an essential role, with our support, to stop an important piece of European social law to be considerably weakened. The challenge is now to ensure that the Working Time Directive regains its key role in providing minimum standards on working time in Europe. This is especially important in a time of economic crisis and a globalising world. ETUC will continue to fight for this with its members, both at national and European level.}’

Working time, Social policy bis