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PM plans to drop 48-hrs rule

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron (File)

Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to opt-out from the EU employment laws as part of his renegotiation with EU….reports Asian Lite News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron attend a press conference after their meeting at the Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, May 29, 2015.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron attend a press conference after their meeting at the Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, May 29, 2015.

The major part of the deal is the stipulation of 48-hrs for employees working in private and public firms especially the NHS.

The prime minister has held secret talks to claw back the 1992 opt-out that was surrendered by Tony Blair when Labour came to office, The Times reported.

Conservatives and business are pushing for an opt-out of the working-time directive, which sets a maximum working week of 48 hours, holidays and rest periods for workers. Estimates say that the rules cost the NHS billions because hospitals are forced to hire temporary staff to fill gaps in rotas caused by EU obligations to give junior doctors time off work.

Cameron is trying to get exempt from two key EU directives on working time and equal rights for temporary workers, a move that will anger many trade unions and pro-European Labour voters.

The prime minister is seeking to reform Britain’s membership of the EU before a planned referendum by the end of 2017.

Mr Cameron has been trying to keep his renegotiation terms secret before the Tory party conference in October.

Mr Cameron hopes to restore the opt-out by having a clause inserted into an EU treaty on eurozone agreements, which could be done as early as June next year.

The “simplified revision procedure” would require the agreement of all European leaders at a summit.

Since Mr Blair ended the opt-out in 1997, Britain has become bound by directives, from rules on paternity leave and equal opportunities to legislation regulating the height of shoe heels that hairdressers are allowed to wear. The laws are regarded by businesses, especially small businesses, as costly and intrusive.

But the move will affect Labour support for Cameron’s EU referendum. The GMB sources have already warned Labour about taking union “yes” votes for granted.

“If the EU is just about Conservative and corporate politics there is no incentive for us to vote ‘yes’. We would be turkeys voting for Christmas. The government needs to learn and so does Labour,” an official said.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘This is just more of the speculation we said there would be during the negotiation.

‘The Prime Minister has set out the four priority areas for reform and made clear that cutting back on unnecessary EU regulation is part of making Europe more competitive.’