Workers have had to struggle to make headway while the EU Social agenda and the 48-hour working time directive stands idly by.

Two major employers on the Isle of Wight attempted to impose anti-social “productivity” packages on workers in recent years and the workers and their unions still had to invoke their unions and enter into industrial disputes to protect their rights. The EU social protocols, the social chapter and social “charter” were of no consequence for workers.

In June, 2015 a pay dispute caused unrest at Doncaster Trucast in Ryde.Workers had to threaten to take strike action if a resolution was not found.The company offered only a 1.5% pay rise or two per cent rise if the workers included bank holidays as part of their annual leave.This undermined the paid leave arrangements agreed to under the spirit of the EU protocols.

The company wanted to implement an anti-social “continental” shift pattern. Workers did not agreed to the shift change. These notorious shift patterns upset the workers’ systems as they rotate and no-one can get used to a routine life. Workers said, “the new shift pattern, reducing tea breaks and holiday payments and only offering a small shift premium that doesn’t cover the benefits lost”

The EU Social agreements proved completely useless in July, 2013 at GKN Aerospace,in East Cowes.The notorious GKN management have always sought to undermine the EU arrangements anyhow and the union secretaries didn’t even bother to invoke the working time directives. GKN threatened its workforce with an increase in its working week from 37 hours to 40.

The managements not only did this but wanted to reduce premium payments for overtime working.

The “reasons” given by management at the time for pursuing this policy, was to reduce cost and to maximise efficiency, giving the false premise that labour was a “cost”.

This was from a profitable company making millions, which wanted to impose three hours longer on the working week, cuts in sick pay and a pay freeze!

Similarly, nationally,Tata Jaguar in Birmingham, introduced compulsory Saturday working in 2012 The plans included compulsory working of up to 12 Saturdays in a 12-month.None of this was challenged by the working time directive.

“New product proposals” gave a long list of the existing working practices that were implemented in the 1990s, such as “short notice movement of tea breaks and flexible lunch breaks”, “bell to bell working”, “ability to have fixed or flexible holidays, or a combination of both”, “efficient overtime arrangements”, “option to call or flat October shut down”, “ability to move annual shut down dates in accordance with operational requirements”, “zero line stops for Trade Union briefings”, and many others.

None of these were challenged, EU style “Works Councils” and EU business protocols and EU “Social Partnership” arrangements were never invoked or made effective, Social Protocols were none entities in the discussions, EU, Holiday Protection, was undermined and the 48-hour week under the working time directive was used against workers to undermine Saturday as a premium day.The proposals were to actually extend the working week to that attained since the struggles to reduce the working week below 40 hours since the 1970’s.

Pension arrangements and retirement ages were violated in line with Government arrangements to extend the working life of all, reduce actual retirement life and challenge fundamental rights of workers.

Today, with the Junior Doctors the 48-hour week has been discarded and it has been left to the Doctors themselves to demand proper working conditions. In fact; The European Junior Doctors’ Permanent Working Group (EJD), the European Federation of Salaried Doctors (FEMS) and the European Association of Senior Hospital Physicians (AEMH) called upon the European Commission not to compromise the health and safety provisions of the European Working Time Directive for financial considerations.

The European Working Time Directive review has been called in response to the British Government and monopolies demanding changes. The results of this work have not been published, and the European Commission has not yet submitted a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and the Council.Only the European Doctors’ organisations themselves have shown support for British Junior Doctors and attempts to invoke the working time directive under present conditions has proved to be an unsuccessful tool showing no favour to the British Doctors.

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