Union calls for ban on staff tracking

The idea of using of RFID and GPS systems to track employees movements at work has raised hackles at the GMB

A UK trade union is calling for a Europe-wide ban on supermarkets and other employers using RFID and GPS technology to tag and track staff in the workplace.

The general workers' union GMB has submitted a report to the European Commission warning that tagging technologies are an invasion of workers' privacy and calling for legislation to restrict its use.

The GMB warned supermarkets last month that they face strike action if they continue to "dehumanise" shelf-stackers and warehouse staff by forcing them to use wearable computers that track movement and time how long it takes to complete tasks with RFID and GPS.

A GMB spokesperson said that while the EC is looking into the privacy implications of RFID technology in the tracking of products, it has not yet considered the dangers of tracking people in the workplace.

Paul Kenny, the union's acting general secretary, said in a statement: "GMB is concerned that the EU appears to be blissfully unaware of the possible uses of RFID and GPS-linked wearable computer technology to tag European workers and to seriously invade their right to privacy. No one has been consulted about its introduction and use and workers rights to privacy are being undermined."

The GMB said it expects an initial response from the EC around mid-September once commissioners have had time to digest the report.