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European Working Time Directive (Fire Fighters)

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009

The Petition of residents of Brecon and Radnorshire, and others,

Declares that the European Parliament’s proposed abolition of the opt-out from the European Working Time Directive poses a threat to the retained fire fighter system in the United Kingdom; and further declares that the United Kingdom should maintain its right to opt out of the European Working Time Directive so that the retained fire fighters are able to continue with their commitment to the vitally important fire service.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to do all in their power to preserve the right to opt out and to keep our rural fire stations open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Roger Williams, Official Report, 3 June 2009; Vol. 493, c. 351 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills:

The third Conciliation Committee Meeting on amendments to the Working Time Directive ended without agreement on 27 April, concluding these negotiations. The Council and the European Parliament were unable to agree, in particular on the issue of the individual’s right to opt-out of the 48 our working week. The collapse sees the end of the European Parliament’s proposal to phase out the opt-out in three years and means the existing Directive remains in force, including the opt-out as it currently stands.

The Government were successful in our pledge to push for the retention of the opt-out as we understand the importance to UK workers of this right. Many, like those in the retained fire service, choose to make use of this important flexibility and we are firmly of the view that this right should remain.