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GMB Seeks Changes To European Law To Outlaw Worker Tagging

1,315,700 GB workers in wholesale distribution in the front line.

The GMB is calling on the EU Commission to legislate to outlaw the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and GPS satellite linked wearable computers to tag and track workers in the workplace.

A recent GMB report has been passed to the EU Commission and to MEPs by the GMB's Brussels office with a call for them to look again at the Data Protection and personnel privacy implications of the use of the RFID technology. See note 1 below.

Table 1 below shows the numbers of employees in Great Britain working in the wholesale and storage sector. The Home Counties surrounding London top the national league for numbers of workers. The top 5 are: Hertfordshire 35,900; Hampshire 34,700; Kent 30,800; Surrey 27,300; Essex 27,000. Birmingham comes next with 24,000 then Leeds with 23,300. Lancashire has 22,900. Northamptonshire has 22,700 and Manchester has 21,000.

Employees in wholesale and storage
  Area Number %
1 South East 303,200 6.1
2 London 201,100 5.1
3 North West 143,800 5.2
4 West Midlands 132,700 5.7
5 Yorkshire and The Humber 124,000 5.7
6 East Midlands 103,900 5.9
7 South West 94,600 4.4
8 Scotland 87,800 3.9
9 East Anglia 51,300 5.5
10 North East 40,500 3.3
11 Wales 32,700 3.0
Table 1

Paul Kenny, Acting GMB General Secretary said, "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. Their last effort in January 2005 dealt only with the possible use of the technology with regard to products. It does not address the privacy and personnel tracking issues at all. Europe wide legislation is urgently needed as this tracking technology is already in use in Britain. No one has been consulted about its introduction and use and workers rights to privacy are being undermined. GMB is now raising the matter directly with the Commission."

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