Malta Today
This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page


powered by FreeFind

Malta Today archives

News • February 15 2004

Overtime MLP scare was justified after all

Kurt Sansone
It may come as sweet music to the Labour Party’s ears. The news of the European Parliament’s vote mid-week to end the option for EU member states to opt-out of legislation limiting the working week to 48 hours is a vindication of earlier criticism.
The issue was mired in controversy prior to last year’s election with the Labour Party insisting that membership would spell the death of overtime for employees and government reacting by saying employees could opt-out and accept to work more than 48 hours.
The EP vote is not binding but it will definitely put political pressure on the EU Commission as it reviews the 1993 Working Time directive.
Ironically Labour’s pre-election predicament has become a reality thanks to its fellow European Socialists. The report presented to the European Parliament by a Spanish Socialist MEP suggested among other things the gradual phasing out of the opt-out clause which is claimed to have led to abuse by member states, particularly Britain.
The vote to remove the opt-out clause was carried with 275 in favour, 229 against and nine abstentions. The Socialists were backed by the Greens, the Nordic Green Left and a strong minority of the European People’s Party of which the Nationalist Party forms part of.
The whole non-binding report was eventually adopted with 370 votes in favour, 116 against and 21 abstentions.
However, for Labour European Affairs spokesperson Evarist Bartolo the issue is not ideological. Asked whether he personally agreed with the removal of the option that allowed employees to work more than 48 hours if they so accepted, Bartolo was cautious.
"On a human and personal level it is not good for people to work long hours. But on an economic level many people in Malta make ends meet by working overtime and removing the opt out clause would mean they would have to ask for higher wages to ensure an adequate standard of living. This is not a matter of ideology and the party has not discussed the issue internally," Bartolo told MaltaToday.
He added: "One has to wait and see how it develops because a number of countries, especially the UK, are expected to oppose any changes in the directive."

Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta