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THE CONTENTIOUS EU working time directive will be tested in a British court for the first time this month by Sheffield firm Keeble Hawson Moorhouse, acting for six Yorkshire miners.
The six pit deputies, members of Nacods, the mining union, claim RJB Mining has forced them to work more than the 816 hours allowed, under the directive, in a 17 week period.
Keebles solicitor Derek Rodgers, says the workers reached their 816-hour limit a couple of weeks early, and informed management.
"Since then they have continued working under protest," he says.
The six are seeking a ruling that RJB does not have the right to make them work more than a 48 hour week, and that the High Court has the right to enforce the regulations. They were denied an interim injunction last week, but have an early two-day court booking from 23 February.
Sam Whitaker of Freshfields, acting for the Doncaster-based company, says the case "will show whether employees can bring claims relating to the regulations through the High Court".
Whitaker will ask for the case to be thrown out, arguing that it is up to the Health & Safety Executive, or the Employment Tribunal, to enforce the regulations and, as a fall-back argument, that RJB has taken "all reasonable steps" to comply with the directive, as the regulations require.