As reports today reveal that a London lawyer has killed himself due to the long hours and stress in his working life, London's Green MEP, Jean Lambert has warned that a 'cultural revolution' is needed to end the UK's long hours culture and prevent such tragedy's happening again.
Jean Lambert, who is the Green's co-ordinator of the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and last year released her report 'I Must Work Harder?' highlighting the effects of long working hours, commented; "The death of Mathew Courtney is desperately sad. Tragically his concerns, over the long hours he was working, are only now being highlighted when it is too late for him. This should, more than anything, ring alarm bells that our long hours culture must change.
"Sadly the British work culture is such that stress is seen as a weakness and often managers don't know how to recognise or manage it. If we dont change our approach our workforce will become even more vulnerable. With indirect results of long hours, such as tiredness on the roads, being particularly damaging, and symptoms of stress and fatigue often worse than being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cutting the UK's long hours and introducing flexibility will protect all of society in so many ways.
"Over 4 million people in the UK already work over 48 hours per week and a cultural revolution is now needed if we are to achieve the work life balance we want for both men and women. It is vital that we protect others from the desperation, pressure and unrealistic workload that Matthew Courtney must have been under."
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Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.