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…

Theresa May

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.

Philip Hammond

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.”

Damian Green

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.”

Amber Rudd

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.”

Boris Johnson

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.”

David Davis

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.

And he singled out the issue in a speech about the need to leave the EU. He believes it’s part of the “crippling burden of red tape, costing many billions a year, imposed by Brussels.”

Jeremy Hunt

Like Rudd, Hunt ignored the evidence from the BMA to claim: “The working time directive has had a negative impact on patient safety.”

David Liddington

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.”

Liam Fox

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.

Greg Clark

The Business Secretary has given assurances that the Working Time Directive will be kept after Brexit, but voted in Parliament in 2009 for Britain to opt-out of the legislation.

Chris Grayling

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.”

Sajid Javid

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).”

David Mundell

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.”

James Brokenshire

In 2009, the now Northern Ireland Secretary raised what he called “significant concerns about the impact of the working time directive” on the NHS.

Penny Mordaunt

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.”

Karen Bradley

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 Work and Pensions Secretary and Education Secretary voted in 2009 for Britain to opt-out of the Working Time Directive.

Patrick McLoughlin 

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…

  1. Easy to tell they haven’t had to do ‘back to back’ shifts and miss rest days for weeks on end because of lack of staff, and yet still had to take responsibility for public safety because there is no one else. (Why don’t you lot try working for a living?)

  2. Simon Ashley Cross says:

    These murderers are just aiming to up their ‘kill rate’. Funny how this does not affect the 5% who they have given ALL our money and services to!

  3. This reinforces the belief that this Tory cabinet is ruthless and will seemingly seek to continue to adversely affect the working men and women of this country, in favour of excessive profit for their own supporters i.e. The bosses.

  4. Ruud Schreijer says:

    We have all that, except for the 48 hour working week (36) and our industry is not doing too bad in the Netherlands

  5. The Germans and other European nations, who operate under the same ‘nonsense regulations’ export us much or more than do, including running a consistent surplus in trade with the USA who have slashed away at workers’ rights.

  6. Funny how German productivity is so much higher than the UK’s, despite German adherence to the whole of the social chapter (including the elements which Thatcher and Major opted the UK out of).
    Say what you like but the Tories, like Trump, promised the right wingers many things and are delivering on them because they are in the interests of their sponsors.
    The choice for voters should be clear but too many still believe that the Tories are a cuddly “One Nation” party of capitalism with a conscience which disappeared the day Thatcher stabbed Heath in the back and with the aid of Keith Joseph ratcheted the centre ground and the Tory party so far to the right.

  7. Before the working time directive came in it was pretty common to find junior doctors falling asleep in A&E at the hospital where I worked because their ridiculous shift patterns so them working 72 hours without a break.

  8. This Government has no interest whatsoever in protecting workers rights their only interest is in exploiting them.

  9. I live in Australia and we have a Conservative government who wait to see what the Tories get away with and try it here, but I think not even they would dare to go that far. How could anyone vote for this mob; it is beyond me.

  10. If zero-hour contracts, unregulated work hours, no pension, no paid holidays etc are such a good thing, why is it that the people who advocate these are not themselves working under such conditions?

  11. And, if these Tories get their way, the capitalist system will collapse, as the workers will not be able to afford to buy anything, as both Marx and Keynes said.

  12. The workers are the Golden Calfs of the Capitalist system. The whole of this kranky system is based on the surplus value of the manufactured goods once the raw materials and the labour costs have been stripped out. Without the workers labour no amount of money can manufacture items and create a surplus value, hence the control of labour is the most important factor in the circle of production. All the social constraints are built into the Capitalist system to achieve this end. All Treaties, Directives and suchlike are geared to this. It is up to the workers to destroy this parody of civilisation and control their.own future!

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