The GMB has accused some employers of dehumanising their workforce, after a report for the union showed the use of electronic tagging for staff was on the rise.
The report by Michael Blakemore, a professor at Durham University, found that companies – predominately those supplying goods to supermarkets – were increasingly requiring staff to wear devices on their wrists and fingers that tell them which goods to pick in different areas of warehouses.
The GMB claims the devices also register how long it takes them to go from one part of the warehouse to another, what breaks the workers require, and how long they need to go to the toilet. “Any deviation from these times is not tolerated,” the GMB said.
The union said the technology is turning some workplaces into “battery farms”, with conditions similar to “prison surveillance”.
Up to 10,000 staff who supply high-street stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Boots and Marks & Spencer, are wearing the devices, the report claims.