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Sinn Féin will not compromise on workers rights

12 May, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said her party will "not compromise on the rights of workers within the European Union".

Ms McDonald made her comments after the European Parliament voted to end the 'opt out clause' from the 48-hour maximum working week. A number of member states had exemptions from the Working Time Directive. Both Ms McDonald and Ms de Brún voted in favour of the removal of the 'opt out clause,' but supported a number of amendments to strengthen the rights of workers. The report was presented by Alejandro Cercas MEP.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"I want to welcome today's decision by the European Parliament to ensure that the opt-out clause be phased out within 3 years of the entry into force of the revised directive. In practical terms, the same regulations relating to working time will apply to workers in the north and south of Ireland.

"Sinn Féin supports the protection of workers rights throughout the EU. It is our view that any directive, which caps the amount of hours in a working week, is a forward thinking and sensible measure. Governments must ensure that public services get adequate resources to meet the obligations of the EU Working Time Directive."

"However certain aspects of today's decision will actually weaken worker's rights, flying in the face of previous rulings by the European Court of Justice which secured the safety and health of employees by allowing them minimum periods of rest.

"In order to win support for the ending of the opt-out, the European Parliament has conceded a number of other issues which are to the detriment of workers throughout the EU. As a result of today's vote, workers will have to wait longer before getting rest-periods and employers will be in a stronger position to impose more flexible working hours against the will of workers.

"Unfortunately, the success in removing the 'opt out clause' has come at the expense of other worker protections." ENDS

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