Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, in previous debates here last November and in April of this year I supported the general principles behind the idea of directives on working time and I still do so. Clearly there are significant health and safety issues which can be addressed – not only for the protection of workers but also for the protection of their customers and the general public – and issues of customer health and safety of course are particularly relevant in relation to doctors in training. Like my colleague, Mrs Lambert, I am concerned that this compromise has not gone quite far enough in relation to doctors' hours. There would remain though some workers in some working places where practical issues do not readily lend themselves to the implementation of this type of directive. Coming from Scotland, with one of the largest EU fishing fleets, I would like once again to focus on the problem of fisheries and the defining of working time. I note the compromise concerning sea-fishermen – a maximum of 48 hours of weekly work in a reference period of 12 months and the possibility of derogation after consultation and by agreement. This may be an improvement but I still have some questions to put to the Commission. We have to recognise that there were good reasons for the initial exclusion of the fisheries sector. As regards fishing there is a deep-seated suspicion of Brussels in many respects and a lot of opposition to the whole idea of fishermen being told when to sleep or when to go to sea, given that their working time is governed by uncontrollable factors such as climatic conditions and the movement of shoals of fish. The directive says that work at sea comprises sea fishing and other offshore work. Many fishermen, particularly in Scotland, are organised on a family basis – they are share-fishermen paid only a proportion of their vessel's catch. They are clearly not employees in the sense of the word that we would understand. Is this directive going to affect them or is it not? I have asked the Commission this question previously in committee and in plenary and have not yet received absolute clarification of this point. The Conciliation Committee concluded in the case of those share fishermen who are employees – a statement which seems to me to be contradictory – that it is for Member States to determine the conditions for entitlement to annual leave and payments etc, but there is no explanation as to whether or when a share fisherman is employed. I know for sure that the fishermen that I see around the coast of Scotland can only be defined as self-employed and I stress the need for clarification of this. There are huge differences between a large-scale long-distance fleet where fishermen are employed by companies and sent off for months on end and the smaller- and medium-sized boats, which operate on a family or a cooperative basis. This is an issue about the definition of self-employment or owner operation and I know that the compromise deletes own-account transport operators, clearly and quite properly identifying an exception in that area. I call for a similar exception for share-fishermen.

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