The Tory assault on working people’s rights has begun

And they promised they would not use Brexit to water down workers’ rights.

Here’s the story from (forgive me) The Sun:

“Ministers want to scrap EU laws which limit the working week to 48 hours — costing the average family £1,200 in lost pay.

“The move would also be a boost to industry which loses billions of pounds bringing in agency staff to plug the gap.

“Brexiteers have gained widespread Cabinet support to axe the Working Time Directive as a first step when the UK is free from Brussels.

“Brexit-backing ministers will demand an end to the directive when the Brexit “war Cabinet” meets [today, December 18] to decide what to demand when trade talks begin next year.

“They say it will give millions of families the chance to top up their wages and help small firms eager to cash in on the new global trade market.”

More or less every word of the justification for ending the Working Time Directive is inaccurate.

The average family does not lose any pay because of the Working Time Directive. There is an opt-out which means, effectively, that employers can already ask employees to work extra hours – and mostly for no extra pay.

So companies don’t lose billions of pounds bringing in agency staff to replace current workers; as so many of the newly-employed are in part-time or zero-hours contracts, there is plenty of opportunity for firms to increase the hours worked by such employees, within the Working Time Directive. Why would they pay agency workers?

Take a look at this, from James O’Brien:

This is confirmed by the EU Law Analysis website, which states:

“The article claims: “The Tories won an opt-out in 1993 but Labour MEPs voted to end the UK’s right to break the limit in 2003.” The first part of this sentence is accurate: the original Directive (amended to apply to more workers in 2000, then codified in 2003) gives each Member State the option to let workers decide to opt out individually of the usual average limit of 48 working hours a week, on the condition that they are not subject to any ‘detriment’ by the employer if they opt not to do so (see Article 22 of the 2003 version). Indeed, a study by Barnard, Deakin and Hobbs showed that as a result, the Directive had little impact on the UK’s long working hours.

“However, the second part of the sentence is highly misleading. Along with the rest of the article, it gives the reader the impression that each worker’s individual opt out to work over 48 hours a week on average no longer exists. This is not true… The UK is one of six Member States which allow workers in every sector of employment to choose to work extra hours. You can find the option in the UK’s Working Time Regulations, which transpose the Directive into UK law (it’s Regulation 5). In practical terms, a recent TUC analysis estimates that over 3 million UK workers work over the 48-hour average limit.”

The article adds that, contrary to the implied promise of extra pay in the Sun article, many of those additional working hours are unpaid.

In addition, the Working Rights Directive guarantees certain conditions without which employees may not be asked to work the extra hours:

  • Daily working hours are limited to a maximum of 13;
  • There must be a rest break if the working day is longer than 6 hours;
  • Workers must get at least one day off a week;
  • There are guarantees for night workers;
  • And of course the Directive guarantees four weeks’ paid holiday every year, with no opt-outs or exceptions.

So there is absolutely no reason to ditch the directive, unless there is an ulterior motive that has been kept quiet.

As the EU Law Analysis article states: “Put simply, far from increasing workers’ pay, scrapping the working time Directive would reduce that pay for many of them.”

And consider this, from Jo Stevens MP:

The EU Law Analysis article quotes Theresa May’s  Lancaster House speech setting out her Brexit policy:

“Point 7 reads: ‘…a fairer Britain is a country that protects and enhances the rights that people have at work. That is why, as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers rights are fully protected and maintained.

“‘Indeed, under my leadership, not only will the Government protect the rights of workers set out in European legislation, we will build on them.’

“If the mooted plans go ahead, this would prove that the Conservative party’s pledge to retain all workers’ rights derived from EU law was worthless.” [Bolding mine.]

Already there is a petition calling on the Tory government to reaffirm its commitment to the rights enshrined in the Working Time Directive.

You can find it – and sign it – here.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are a few comments from Twitter to point you in the right direction:

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:



  1. NMac December 18, 2017 at 9:35 am - Reply

    The lies and deceptions continue. The working class people of Britain are in for a hard time.

  2. rollo57 December 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    “‘Indeed, under my leadership, not only will the Government protect the rights of workers set out in European legislation, we will build on them.’

    These politicians can and do say anything they like, as there’s no enforcement for when they break their word. We have to wait for the next election, by which time we’ve forgotten!
    We need to bring in ‘Total Recall’, which will be applied to MP’s or a Party, when they 1. don’t implement doorstep promises, within 12 months of being in office. 2. Fail to strictly adhere to bring in policies they had in their manifesto, within 18 months of taking office.

  3. rollo57 December 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    PS; Or fail to implement policy they did have in their manifesto, 18 months after taking office.

  4. Rusty December 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    The last time the tories meddled with working practices, they made working trial period from 6 months to two years! So I’m not surprised by this! I expected this to happen ASAP! You can never trust a tory.

Leave A Comment