Threat To Retained Fire Fighters Dropped

28 April 2009
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed news that the current status of the Working Time Directive will continue after talks in Brussels on changing the regulation, including ending the UK opt out collapsed.

The Parliament's vote to end the UK opt out had caused concern particularly among retained fire fighters unions.

Mr Smith has called for future discussion on work time issues to support both workers rights and the provision of public services.

Talks broke down after attempts to reach compromise on ending the UK opt out from the package, the definition of on call time and issues over multiple contracts failed. There will now be no changes ahead of the European elections.

SNP MEP Mr Smith said:

"Across Scotland the potential consequences of the Parliament's proposals for retained firefighters, care staff, social work, specialist police, coastguards and other services were significant and were not properly accounted for in the proposed legislation.

"While the Working Time Directive has brought improvements for workers across the EU and we all, particularly on Workers Memorial Day, want to see improvements in working conditions, the collapse of these talks brings an end to the prospect of damage to vital public services.

"It is far better that we have no deal, than rush a bad deal through before the elections.

"In Scotland we've got what it takes to protect both public services and workers rights and the end of these negotiations gives us the opportunity to see legislation that works for Scotland, not damages us.

"Where other parties have scaremongered and sought to exploit this issue SNP MEPs have given Scottish concerns a voice in Europe, voting to protect Scottish interests and working with the Scottish Government. In the next Parliament we will continue to support our essential services and our public sector workers."