GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

CBI Agenda For EU Single Market

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CBI Wants EU Reform Renegotiation To Remove Law Introduced To Prevent Accidents Like Clapham Junction Rail Disaster Where Excessive Hours Killed 35 People And Injured 500

If what David Cameron brings back from the re-negotiations tilts the balance even further away from standards for workers many organizations traditionally in favour will campaign for a No vote says GMB.

GMB responded to reports that CBI President Sir Mike Rake on Wednesday 20 May at the CBI’s Annual Dinner on EU reform will say that the UK electorate faces a choice “between shaping the future or retreating into the past”.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said “Sadly it is the CBI that wants to turn the clock back. 

Never mind what is on the menu for the CBI dinner tonight, what is on their menu for reform of the EU, and why won’t CBI come out and say in plain speech what they are seeking from Government?

CBI wants the Working Time Directive, Agency Workers Directive and other laws to no longer apply in the UK after the Cameron re-negotiation.

The EU reform/better regulation measures announced on 19th May as a way of getting rid of “red tape” are the mechanisms to be used to secure the changes to social and employment rights that are central to Tory/ CBI reform re-negotiations.

The Working Time Directive is not “red tape” as the CBI suggests. It was brought in as excessive hours were identified as the direct cause of the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 35 people died and 500 people were injured on 12 December 1988.

The collision was caused by a signal failure due to a wiring fault. An Independent inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden, QC, found that the signalling technician responsible had worked a seven-day week for the previous thirteen weeks.

The CBI now wants to get rid of the following laws introduced to prevent accidents arising from excessive working hours:

·    Weekly working time should not exceed 48 hours for each 7 day period over a 13 weeks cycle;

·    A 20 minute rest break after six hours, a daily rest of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period and weekly rest of 24 hours uninterrupted;

·    Paid annual leave of at least 20 days on a full-time basis plus 8 days bank holiday.

The Agency Workers Directive provide that basic employment and working conditions for temporary and  agency workers – after they have been there for 12 weeks-  should be equal to those of a directly employed worker doing the same job in the firm they work in.

The aim of this, and the other EU legislation the CBI want to get rid of, is to prevent unfair competition between different member states and to stop a race to the bottom on rights at work.

The CBI need to face up to the concerns a large part of the electorate have over more fundamental problems about Europe. Whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.

The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation and undermining of condition in check.

That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employer have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision.

Across the length and breadth of the land people know that there is undercutting of wages and conditions by employers exploiting agency labour recruited from poorer areas of Europe.

On Teesside, for example, an employer insists the 1 in 10 of the predominately migrant workforce who speaks English are identified by a UK flag sticker on their hard hats while paying £5 per hour below agreed rates for construction workers in the UK.

Reforms are badly needed to stop this exploitation.

If what David Cameron brings back from the re-negotiations tilts the balance even further away from standards for workers, as the CBI wants, many organizations traditionally in favour will campaign for a No vote.”


Contact: Kathleen Walker Shaw GMB EU officer 07841 181549 or GMB political officers Cath Speight 07506 711 925 or Lisa Johnson 07900 392 228 or Gary Doolan 07590 262504  or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823


Share this page