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Keep fighting to retain working time opt-out

LETTERS

Sir, I was interested to read your recent news reports on the implications to the industry of the Wo rk ing T ime D i rec t ive .

This issue is of particular concern to the plant sector.

The Construction Plant-hire Association welcomes the recent stay of execution on the removal of the UK s opt-out, but we fear it is only a matter of time before the European Parliament and the Commission raise the issue again. It is essential that we continue to lobby to retain the UK s opt-out.

Jobs involving ref inery shutdowns, power station outages and railway possessions are by their very nature intensive.

Plant operators and other workers put in long hours to minimise disruption to the running of trains, for example, or to get a refinery up and running as soon as possible to minimise loss of production.

Operators of road-going plant such as mobile cranes, lorry-mounted access platforms and concrete pumps routinely spend up to two hours driving from their depot to site, eight hours on site and then another two hours back again in the evening, putting in 12 hours a day, five or six days a week.

The CPA estimates that, without the opt-out, the UK would require at least 20 per cent more plant operators . . . at a time when most employers are already having recruitment difficulties. Given that current operators would be unwilling to see any reduction in takehome pay, the cost of employing these extra operators will have to be passed on to the hire companies clients.

We es t ima te th is a lone w i l l contribute hundreds of millions of pounds to industry costs. I am not sure the Construction Confederation s figures took account of this added factor.

Colin Wood Chief Executive Construction Plant-hire Association London EC1