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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
6 February
Hudghton welcomes ruling on offshore working time

SNP Member of the European Parliament Ian Hudghton, the Party’s spokes-person on Employment, has welcomed a ruling form the European Commission which will give ammunition to offshore workers in their fight for four weeks paid leave.  The MEP has received a response to queries he put to Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou over the implementation of the Directive by the UK Government in which she confirms that the four weeks paid annual leave entitlement is not to be offset against rest time.

Mr Hudghton, who had been approached by many offshore workers, angry to find they were missing out on their right to four weeks paid annual leave, wrote to the Commissioner saying:

“The nature of offshore work necessitates that employees are given sufficient time to rest after working in often arduous situations.  As such, it seems to me that the aims of the Working Time Directive will be seriously undermined if employers count these essential rest periods against entitlement to annual leave.  The two - rest and annual leave entitlement – must not be inter-changeable if the aims of the Directive are to be achieved.”

In her response to the MEP, Commissioner Diamantopoulou echoes his views and responds thus:

“I would like to stress that Article 7 of the Working Time Directive lays down that every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks.  Considering the objectives of the Directive, to protect the health and safety of workers at work, and the case law of the European Court of Justice, the weeks off in a working pattern “one week on/one week off” cannot be considered as a period of paid annual leave, but rather as rest period.”

Commenting on the ruling, Mr Hudghton, who has today sent a copy of the Commission’s response to the negotiators in OILC and Amicus said:

“The Commissioner’s letter makes the position crystal clear and gives the employees negotiators some useful ammunition.  Offshore workers aren’t looking for special treatment – they simply wanting the same rights as every other worker whose employment is covered by the Working Time Directive”

Mike Weir, SNP MP for Angus, who has raised the issue in the House of Commons, also welcomed the Commission’s decision and said:

“Commissioner Diamantopoulou’s answer helps sweep away the bluff and bluster that Government Ministers have been spouting.  It’s not good enough for the UK Government to fiddle about with employment laws for the benefit of the oil companies when the legislation is designed in the first place to protect the health and safety of employees.”

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