German chem employers wary of new EU working time initiative

10 June 2010 17:02  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s chemical employers are wary of a new attempt by the EU Commission to review the EU’s working time directive, an industry group said on Thursday.

An earlier, five-year effort to amend the directive failed in 2009.

Wiesbaden-based chemical employers group BAVC warned against a complete overhaul of the existing directive and urged the Commission to proceed “cautiously.”

Most importantly, the Commission had to ensure the current directive’s “opt out” provision - which allows for exceptions to the maximum 48 hour/week rule – was not abolished in any reforms, the group said.

Also, the Commission needed to make sure that situations of “on-call time” – for example for firefighters in the chemicals industry – were regulated in line with the industry’s specific needs, it said.

Especially the chemicals industry needed “pragmatic approaches,” BAVC said. Working time was better regulated “bottom up” between unions, work councils and companies, rather than “top down” from Brussels, it said.

The Commission, in its draft review, said the existing directive was “clearly unsatisfactory.”

The directive did not ensure that workers’ health and safety was being effectively protected across the EU, nor did it allow sufficient flexibility for businesses and workers in organising working time, the Commission said.

“The Commission considers it necessary to review the working time rules in the EU, and believes that it has a special obligation to do so,” it said.

BAVC represents 1,900 firms in Germany's chemicals, plastics and rubber industries.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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