Don't tag workers, urges union

'Dehumanising'

The European Commission is being urged to outlaw electronic tagging in the workplace by companies that monitor their employees' every move.

The GMB union - which has some 700,000 members - wants Eurocrats to introduce legislation against the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and GPS satellite-linked wearable computers to tag and track staff in the workplace.

Last month the GMB said that employers were "dehumanising" workers by making them slaves to computers.

Some RFID systems involve computers worn on the arm and are being used increasingly by warehouse workers who follow instructions from their onboard PC.

"The only role for the worker is to do as the computer order requires," said the GMB.

"These devices calculate how long it takes to go from one part of the warehouse to the other and what breaks the workers need and how long they need to go to the toilet.

"Any deviation from these times is not tolerated. In effect these devices to dispatch goods to supermarkets and shops have made workers the aid to the computer rather than the other way round. The only functions that the human do are the bits that have not yet been automated."

Speaking last month GMB Acting General Secretary Paul Kenny said the union was "no Luddite organisation". But he added that the union "would not stand idly by to see our members reduced to automatons".

"The use of this technology needs to be redesigned to be an aide to the worker rather than making the worker its slave," he said.

The union intends to lobby the EC to raise awareness and seek a change in the law. ®

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