Andy Egan from BECTU, the TV technicians union, has expressed his union’s concern that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition would be even more opposed to the EU Working Time Directive than the previous government.
Speaking on Monday at the quarterly meeting of the European Working Group of the main trade unions in the entertainment and creative industries, Andy agreed with me that it was now extremely unlikely that the UK would fully sign up to the Directive.
The Working Time Directive, which allows for a maximum of 48 hours to be worked a week, is an important piece of social protection legislation preventing employees working excessive hours. However, despite efforts in the EU to allow the 48 hours to be averaged out over a 12 month period to provide for peaks and troughs in working requirements, i.e. 60 hours one week, 50 another and maybe 30 another up to a total of 2,496 (52×48) hours a year, the British Government never saw fit to sign up to this important Directive.
Trade unions across the board remain extremely disappointed at the failure to end the UK opt out on Working Time. I believe e should continue this campaign for fair working hours and must not give up.
I also presented the following report on my work on the Culture and Education Committee to the meeting:
The Culture and Education Committee in 2009/10
It has been an exciting year in the Culture and Education committee; with the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty we have seen our role expanded now to cover sport and youth as well. As leader of the Socialists and Democrats on the committee I have been involved in many interesting and constructive debates over the last year, ranging from the regulations of players agents in sport to how we can create a greater dialogue between universities and business. Recently, I personally hosted an event for the Federation of Actors, which looked at the need to take greater consideration of the gender perspective in the media.
Journalism and New Media
My fellow MEP Morten Lokkegard, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) has been writing a very interesting report on the Journalism and the New Media which I have been following closely. Amongst other things the report examined how we in the European Parliament might encourage more coverage of our activities in the press, since a lack of knowledge meant the citizens of Europe were at a disadvantage. It also looked at the future of print journalism in the internet age. It was a very interesting report and now that it has gone through the Culture and Education committee, I hope its recommendations will be taken seriously by the European Commission.
European Heritage Label
Probably the most substantial piece of legislation going through the Culture and Education committee is one that will create a European Heritage Label. This will be something like the blue plaques that we have in the United Kingdom, but specifically for sites important to the history of Europe. I’m very glad that my colleague from the Socialist and Democrats, Chrysoula Paliadeli, will be taking the lead on this report. Ms Paliadeli is a Professor of Archeology so will be able to write a very informed and constructive report that will make exactly the right recommendations for the creation of this label.
Early Years Learning in the European Union
I am excited to have been given the opportunity to write a report myself which will focus on Early Years Learning in the European Union. I have seen statistics recently that demonstrate that the early years in a child’s educational development have a huge impact on their future success. If proper attention is paid to a child’s development at the pre-school age then there is dramatic drop in the likelihood of early school leaving and poor grade retention. The United Kingdom has made a lot of progress in this area with schemes like Sure Start, but I want to see if there are ways we can share best practices across Europe.
Future Work of the Committee
Regarding the next six months in the Culture Committee, I will be co-signing a written declaration asking for the commission and member states do not reduce funding for grassroots level sports, given their importance to community cohesion and individual health. The committee will also be writing a legislative opinion the Child Sex Abuse Images report that is going through the parliament. I will be working closely with my colleague Petra Kammerevert on this very important and difficult issue.