Tuesday 29 January 2013


David Cameron has been talking a lot recently about his aim of ‘renegotiating’ the UK’s relationship with Europe, and ‘repatriating’ regulations that originate with the EU.

The Working Time Directive is a set of work-related regulations at the top of many Conservatives’ lists to overturn. Mainly because it gives workers a reasonable deal.

But stepping away from the EU jargon on the issue, this legislation contains a lot of very basic protections at work that people in Scotland and the UK now take totally for granted – holidays, lunch-breaks, days off and more. 

I understand people's dislike of many things that the EU does, some totally practical things; some a bit more emotional (foreigners telling the great British what to do.) But we need to remember that if we in Scotland remain in the UK, we will, for the foreseeable future, be living under right wing governments. Because the South East of England wants that. So Labour or Conservative, the choice is right wing and more right wing. 

We need to consider what these right wing governments will do if the more socially aware Europe doesn't have some influence on our terms and conditions. This is an example. Cameron wants tog et rid of this kind of legislation. 

There are no regulations from Europe on how member states treat their unemployed, their sick and their old. What kind of rights do unemployed and sick people have under Cameron? 

What kind of rights do you think workers would have under Cameron?
Hopefully we will never go back to a situation where the English government has a say in our education policy.

Because, if we do, this (below) is the kind of madness we will be in line to receive.


  1. It reads, as an incredibly needless ideal.

  2. tris..would it be illegal for an independent Scottish government to introduce any of these directives themselves ?

  3. tris

    If Scotland was (God forbid) to leave the UK would the Scottish people want
    to join the EU obviously Alex and Nicola have said they will not allow a
    referendum and will force the Scotts into the eu.

    Now don't get me wrong I wuv the eu more than the our glorious Union
    but Im not the one being big time hypocritical banging on about one
    referendum and then bare faced denying a second one.

    anyways what gets me as a real life true worker is why
    do Cameron and his scum believe the be all and end all of
    Industrial policy is being able to sack anybody at anytime.
    It just shows how little experience of working life they have
    mind these days what politician does

    They never complain about the contracts with all
    the protections and financial compensations their
    friends in the city are awarded.


  4. of course it would, Monty, but I'm taking into consideration the very unlikely possibility that the no campaign will prevail. I was saying, under a London government, where the choice is made by the whole UK, the right prevail.

    Once the right know that there is no restraint they will have little boys up chimneys, or at least the modern equivalent.

    An independent Scotland would almost certainly be far less in need of the moderating influences of the more left leaning EU, even under a Labour government. At least it is my belief that Labour, with its umbilical cord to Mother London cut, would once again become a centre left party.

  5. I don't think you can say that there will be no referendum Niko.

    I realise that the present government's policy is to push ahead with negotiations, but there is nothing to say that the incoming government will not give the us a referendum on whether to accept the conditions that the SNP has negotiated. It might be Lamont or Sarwar or Murphy, or Alexander who is First Minister...

    That said, Ed's last word was that he didn't want a referendum... so maybe that is still Labour's position.

  6. What does mr Mg?

  7. In the late 60's we started at 7.30am and finished at 5.30pm with a 30 min and a 10 min break for 5 days and a 7.30am - 12.30pm on a Sat. Holidays were 2 weeks summer plus some local ones and 2 days xmas OR 2 days new year all for £8.1s.3d per week. No washing or toilet facilities other than a spade if required. That is were the UK under Tory/Labour is headed if you can find a job that is without the spade.

    7 questions on British history

    I was disappointed as I got 2/7 by guessing the answers as I hadn't a clue so my 64 year old visa/birth certificate will be revoked as I am an alien to Britishness. Off to Fingal's cave for a lie down.

  8. It seems obvious to me that unless there are some restraints on them that is what they will do. They can make far more money of they do away with safety, breaks, holidays.

    I'm off to see if I know anything about British history. :)

    1. I only scored 3, but why should I know English (mostly) history?

  9. Excellent article Tris!

    100% correct! The Working Time Directive is there for a reason. Maybe the Tories want it got rid of, so those doctors and nurses can be forced into working semi-sleep deprived for 100 hour weeks, but I don't. The EU has its failures, absolutely - but 'social Europe' and the acquis is something I am so proud of having incorporated into UK and Scottish law that it disgusts me how anyone could justify stripping it away.

    100% agreement on this one.

  10. Oh dear... 2/7 for me too. But most of it was English history.

    Henry VIII, and the irish being conquered by the English on the orders of the Vatican in 1100 and something...

    ... Nothing about Bannockburn though, so at least the BBC are not rejoicing in the deaths of Englishmen.

  11. Hells teeth, Dean. There has to be a first time for everything I guess mate.

  12. Got to say something here. Did you know we're losing thousands of doctors to the likes of Australia, Canada etc because they're unable to work enough hours to gain the experience to become senior practitioners? We pay around £250,000 to train and doctor and then they're snapped up by other countries.

    Dean says nurses worked 100 hours a week. That's not true. Nurses have never been involved in doctors working hours and the effect the WTD has on the NHS will begin to show in a few years time, because the standards will decline owing to having to employ less qualified and experience personnel.

    The WTD will have no effect on these unscrupulous employers who pay less than the minimum wage and/or cash in hand.

    I'm off to bed.

  13. Hi SR. The junior doctors’ hours are more about danger to patients than anything else.

    The working time directive is completely voluntary. I have lads working for a frozen food company during the summer. They need to be available (for a short season) to work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. When they apply they are told that they will be obliged to sign to say that they will work more than 48 hours a week. If they refuse to do this, Iain Duncan Smith can't take away their benefits. How that must irk him.

    In the case of doctors this was brought in to cover the fact that they were working 36 hours and more on one shift with no rest, except perhaps a short time here and there when it was quiet. The result was that they could be completely disoriented by sleep deprivation when they were treating patients. I’ve been on the receiving end of a doctor who was so tired he couldn’t take in what I was saying.

    Of course the UK was given something like 15 years warning that these regulations were coming in, and other countries have managed to cope. It is odd that Scotland and England have had such difficulties. Presumably other countries manage to train their doctors to a high enough degree that they can rise through their profession to become seniors. They certainly manage in France, which according the WHO has the best public health service in the world, bar none.

    As for other countries poaching our doctors, this may be more because although life as a doctor here is quite marvellous compared with many places, on £100-£200 thousand a year, the workload is relatively heavy. In Canada and Australia, and indeed in many European countries, the workload is far lighter. I know that in France there are twice as many doctors to the same number of patients than in Scotland.

    We of course do exactly the same as Australia and New Zealand. We take doctors for all over the world (and nurses too), who have been trained at the expense of their governments, so it isn't a one way thing. When we stopped stealing their minerals, we started stealing their doctors, or their young people bright enough to train as doctors in our universities.

    But my main point in the article was if you give the Tories an inch, they will take a mile.

    Of course I know that there are employers who pay less than the minimum wage. I could name several small companies that do that. Unfortunately people are so desperate for work that they fail to report wage abuses and the inspectors that used to visit small companies and interview their staff to check on wages and look at the books, checking amounts paid and tax paid, are a thing of the past, removed by Mrs Thatcher in a cost cutting exercise, wouldn't you know!!

  14. I should imagine that TUPE will be attacked by the Cons so that their pals can sack the NIKOs of this world without any redundancy payments etc. As for a referendum over joining the EU I really cannot see why a Labourite should be complaining. If it was up to them there would not be any referenda whatsover. I do not think the SNP can be lectured on workers rights by a party that set up ATOS or calling anyone a "traitor" for seeking to bring Labour back to its original principles as opposed to being clones of the Conservatives.

  15. Aye john, Of course they would. The Tories have already tried to persuade people to give up employment rights in return for shares. Mrs Thatcher got rid of wages councils, minimum wage.

    One of the better things that Blair did was joining the social chapter.

    People complain about there being too many human right and employment right; too much health and safety. Let the Tories at it and they'll soon answer that kind of problem.

    "Ordinary" people's rights will be written on the back of a postage stamp, while MPs, Lords and the royals will have their in a tomb the size of War and Peace.

    I just think it is worth remembering all that, when we allow Cameron to negotiate his way out of these things.

    People will vote for no human rights because the human rights are provided by the hated and feared foreigner.

  16. An aspect of this cropped up before last year when we had all the hoohaa over why public sector workers should have better working conditions than private sector workers, the argument at the time was; working in the private sector was a lot more cut throat, longer hours, less pay and more crap conditions generally. Where-as, at councils or the NHS etc, things like WTD and living wage and all the other civilising perks of a modern working life remained.

    Instead of forcing the private sector to pull itself up to similar conditions, or even be inspired by those conditions, the notion was chucked out in favour of dragging everyone down to the same crappy level of existence.

    I remember mithering at the time, that it was a microcosm (great word) of the greater argument for independence and the main failing of the Unionist argument, which was and still is, government by lowest common denominator. The idea that, since its shit in the private sector then it must also be shit in the the public sector; which seems to be what unionists want for Scotland.

    Suffice to say, it should be the other way round. The private sector should be taking its example from the public sector, not the other way round. To say anything else is completely self-defeating and the language of short-sighted envy.

    The coalition has already reduced the consultation period required for redundancies (from 90 to 60 days) making it easier for companies to down size. What annoys me about this entire situation is, people are being double fucked, they get fucked while they work; if they lose their job (because Westminster eased the rules for business' to downsize) they then get fucked for being out of work.

    Who would vote for that?

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  18. Tris

    The European issue is an interesting one for myself. I have always tended to be pro europe in the main, one of the reasons is the fact that I would much rather trust Europe on foreign policy than I do successive westminster governments.

    The working time directive is a good thing in the main. The tories would have us all in the work house if they had their way and that might just come about given the benefit changes and the other changes to come soon across the board.

    One of the bigger gripes from England is the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a good bit of ligislation as it gives us all a minimum set of rights, something that we have little of in this country as it is. The fact that British Courts can't interpret the law properly says more about them than it does the law.

    I appreciate that europe does come up with some strange rules and regulations but in the main we need to challenge those from within. I also accept that some European Governments may not be exactly what we would vote for for, but neither are the tories are they.

    I feel that an independent Scotland needs to remain within Europe. It doesn't mean we have to accept the Euro, that may go down as a huge mistake in the longer run for europe. But if eurozone members move towards ever greater union that is the choice for their voters to make not for us to moan about, we have enough problems of our own with first past the post.

    Europe is not going away and as emerging markets continue to grow in strength with low wage and poor conditions meaning we can't compete we will need Europe to ensure a fairer deal for our own economy and protection from markets even if that means protectionism within europe.

    We also have the situation that all the main parties promised banking reform, europe wanted banking reform that was a step in the correct direction, we got no banking reform. Their bluff was called and the three tory parties were found out. No one has went to jail in what was the biggest fraud on the taxpayer in history, America and the UK has shown that the bankers are outwith the law and we will damn well accept it.

    That might be ok for apologists like Nico but I would much rather have a system that operates to the betterment of society as a whole not the political classes who only want to feather their nest and those of their peers.

    A judgement day will be coming, 2014 if people don't hit the streets before then but a judgement is coming. People will only take so much and I feel that they are being pushed to the edge.

  19. LO Pa... bang on.

    Can't really add anything... you summed it up brilliantly :)

  20. Another excellent piece Bruce.

    Lallans peat Worrier had a good piece on the European Court the other day. Actually it is the government and it's pet poodle newspapers that get bent out of shape about the Court. I throws out most of the cases that come before it. England has a very low rate of overturns. But the Tories love to have a go at foreigners telling British people what to do with their namby pamby rights and socialism.

    We know that rights are for the aristos and the rich (and as you say, bankers). The rest of us can p*** off.