All but three members of the Cabinet have criticised or voted against the Working Time Directive, our research reveals.
The EU law which guarantees British workers the right to paid holiday, rest breaks and a 48 hour working week is being discussed by the Cabinet today.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is leading calls to scrap the legislation, according to reports in Sunday’s papers.
Scrapbook has searched out the views of every Cabinet member on these crucial rights. Here’s what we found…
Although the PM has promised to protect workers’ rights from the EU after Brexit, Scrapbook has already reported how she fiercely objected to their introduction.
She described the entire ‘social chapter’, which includes the Working Time Directive, as a “burden on business” and has even claimed it put women out of work. The truth is that 4.7 million women won paid holiday for the first time thanks to the Directive.
During Labour’s last spell in power, the now Chancellor criticised the…
“…Huge burdens that the Government have imposed on businesses through higher taxes, the working time directive, the minimum wage, the parental leave directive and the other paraphernalia of the social chapter.”
In a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies criticising the last Labour government, the now Deputy PM wrote:
“The cumulative affect of the minimum wage, the social chapter, the working time directive and all the other various costs on business will have a more lasting (and damaging) effect on the availability of jobs than any short-term measures to address long-term unemployment.”
In a 2012 debate, the now Home Secretary claimed patient care in the NHS had “deteriorated as a result of the directive”.
That is contradicted by the British Medical Association, who say the directive has “reduced fatigue among doctors and improved the safety of both patients and doctors.”
The Foreign Secretary was calling for the Government to axe the entire social chapter long before Brexit.
In 2014, he wrote: “The weight of employment regulation is now back-breaking: the collective redundancies directive, the atypical workers directive, the working time directive and a thousand more.”
The Brexit Secretary has spoken of the “dangers of the social chapter” and put a pledge to scrap it at the centre of his campaign to become Tory leader in 2005.
When the Working Time Directive was introduced, he was part of the Foreign Office team which fought to stop it being applied to Britain.
Like Rudd, Hunt ignored the evidence from the BMA to claim: “The working time directive has had a negative impact on patient safety.”
The Justice Secretary claimed small businesses would be “gravely damaged” by the introduction of the social chapter and mean “longer dole queues.”
And as Europe Minister he promised to: “Work to limit the application of the working time directive in the United Kingdom.”
The International Trade Secretary campaigned against the introduction of EU workers’ rights being applied in the UK and claimed that the Working Time Directive is a “burden” which has cost money and jobs.
As Employment Minister, Grayling wanted powers over the Working Time Directive repatriated so it could be scrapped.
And during the referendum campaign, he said: “European Union regulations…increase costs for business and make it less desirable to employ people in the United Kingdom.”
In an article about cutting red tape for Conservative Home, the now Communities Secretary wrote:
“We should appoint a Business Deregulation Minister whose sole job would be to cut or significantly amend current nonsense regulations, and prevent future nonsense regulations. We can make a start with repealing working time regulations (preventing businesses from managing their workload sensibly).”
Another minister who has ignored the BMA’s position on the Working Time Directive is the Scotland Secretary, who has said:
“I do not support the rigidity and lack of flexibility that the working time directive brings to the health service.”
In 2009, the now Northern Ireland Secretary raised what he called “significant concerns about the impact of the working time directive” on the NHS.
The last International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, was notorious for her views on workers’ rights, but her Brexiteer replacement is not much better.
Mordaunt was a founding member of Fresh Start, a Eurosceptic Tory pressure group, which published a paper in 2012 calling for the Working Time Directive to be “pared back.”
The Culture Secretary co-wrote a paper in 2011 which described the Working Time Directive as the “most onerous” piece of EU health and safety legislation, claiming it has “caused huge problems” for the NHS and cost business billions.
David Gauke and Justine Greening
The Chairman of the Tory party not only voted for the 2009 motion calling for the opt-out, but sponsored it. During the Tories time in opposition, he also asked the then Labour Government how much the Directive had cost the NHS.
That leaves only Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Wales Secretary Alun Cairns and Lords leader Natalie Evans who haven’t explicitly opposed the Working Time Directive in one form or another.
However, Cairns has called for employment protections to be cut and Evans worked for the British Chamber of Commerce, who oppose the Working Time Directive. We’re not sure former chief whip Williamson is going to choose this issue for his first rebellion.
Not a single member of this Cabinet can be trusted to speak up for workers’ rights…