Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reactionary Old Tories: Dan Hannan Supported by LPFTB

Dan Hannan MEP is a hard-working fella. A writer and journalist. And in his spare time a Member of the European Parliament. Dan thinks that moves to banish the opt-opt and working over 48 hours on average over a year is taking liberties with his liberties. As we might expect the Labour Party's Favourite Tory Blogger Iain Dale agrees in Spades.

The Law is of course very easy to get around, whatever the official decision is. One can have several jobs. One can conspire with the boss and choose how much time is counted. One can simply fiddle the paperwork. One can be self employed and escape much of this.

Dan can do his five hours a week as an MEP, add 40 hours on his latest book, spend 20 hours journalising and (a) non-one will know; (b) separate functions and jobs muddy the water; and (c) however seriously he and Iain take themselves or like the sound of their own voices no one is likely to be put at risk by tired and wrong-headed comment.

In similar lines of business I have practiced it hardly mattered if I worked 50 or 60 hours, or 80 for that matter. When I was a production editor many years ago I once worked eight days and nights with only 11 hours sleep. 90% of it on my feet. I would have been better off and the publications would have got out more smoothly with some extra sleep-age says 20:20 hindsight. Including of the typesetters and camera ops etc who also mostly worked through.

But if I were doing that and driving a HGV, or working some industrial machinery, or doing the wiring on a new development, or Iain Dale's house for that matter, or looking after vulnerable children, or in a life or death role as a medic etc then working ludicrous hours is really not helpful however much money I think I need.

The NMW should of course be much higher. It should be a living wage for a household for 35 hours work. Oh go on then 48 hours, averaged annually, as a maximum.

And work should clearly be shared among more people especially in times when there are not enough jobs to go round.

But even if Dan Hannan and Iain Dale do not accept these humane, community-spirited concepts, or that it is the low-paid that bear the brunt of exploitation and involuntary over-work, there really should be no opt out on safety critical legislation.

Just consider the next HGV to plough into a school crossing, the next gas explosion or wiring fire caused by doziness, the next multi-car pile up caused by the traveling rep nodding off, the surgeon killing dozens of children on the operating table through fatigue-begotten incompetence, the moonlighting or double shifting firearms officer shooting someone in error, the private ambulance driver that is also a hard-working engineer and knows neither first aid nor in their tiredness the way from scene to hospital.

Then think again.

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