Workers gain more rights on prejudice EU directive

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The Independent Online

European Union workers won new rights against discrimination on grounds of age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation last night, after a compromise to grant exemptions for the armed forces.

European Union workers won new rights against discrimination on grounds of age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation last night, after a compromise to grant exemptions for the armed forces.

After more than five hours of tough talking, ministers from the 15 member states backed a controversial directive to impose legal sanctions against employers that discriminate against their workers.

The package aims to protect workers from unfair treatment in the selection of employees, their promotion and their working conditions, but was agreed only after hard bargaining by Britain and Ireland, which had separate objections.

Britain insisted on an exemption for armed forces from the parts of the legislation dealing with discrimination on grounds of age and disability - and won six years' grace in which to implement some of the measures.

Ireland was calling for separate concessions to proposed laws against religious discrimination to protect teacher recruitment policies in both Catholic and Protestant schools. That was overcome by an addition to the text stating that the measures would take into account the "ethos" of the institution.

The Confederation of British Industry was cool about the proposed measures, saying that, while it accepted much of the directive, elements would be difficult for industry.

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