Hospitality workers look set to be banned from working more than 48 hours per week from 2011 after MEPs voted overwhelmingly to scrap the UK's opt-out from the Working Time Directive.
Today's vote in the European Parliament comes despite a compromise agreement thrashed out in June that proposed allowing the UK to keep its opt-out, meaning workers could work more than 48 hours a week if they wished.
John Cridland, deputy director-general of the employer's group CBI, said the vote was "misguided".
"Trying to ban people from choosing to work more than 48 hours a week is a mistake, and would replace opportunity with obstruction," he said. "In the current downturn, a family might depend on one parent being able to work extra hours if the other loses their job.
"We hope the Council of Ministers stand firm against these amendments and back the compromise agreed in June in which the opt-out was retained," Cridland added.
However, the vote was welcomed by Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, which has published a list of UK citizens who, it says, were killed because of excessive working hours.
"We are going to hear siren voices telling us that this has nothing to do with health and safety," Kenny said. "GMB's answer is to try telling that to the families of the people who were killed."
By Daniel Thomas
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