UPC wins right to use GPS to track staff

A company should be allowed track the movement of its van drivers by satellite, the Labour Court has ruled.

Last year, UPC proposed installing a Global Positioning System vehicle-management system into the transport fleet. This met with opposition from the Unite trade union, which told the Labour Court that “it is a form of Big Brother and a step too far”.

Unite told the court that “there is a mistrust of management and that the privacy of its members is its main concern”.

The union said it did not believe a GPS system “will improve the company callout times”, and that “there is no need for it”.

In response, UPC told the Labour Court that the system’s installation is a commercial necessity and that staff privacy will be respected.

The firm stressed to the Labour Court that “it is a vehicle-management system and it would allow the company to make speedy decisions without making numerous telephone calls, thereby improving the company’s management of its fleet significantly”.

The firm said any concerns voiced by Unite “have been addressed very comprehensively”.

The Labour Court found that “management is entitled to introduce GPS devices onto its fleet for the express purpose of obtaining real time information of its deployment and to assist with the efficient allocation of resources”.

The court found that workers are entitled to privacy and autonomy in the performance of their work, and, most particularly, in the conduct of their personal lives.

The court said that it noted UPC’s commitment that the system will not be used for any purpose other than improving the management of its fleet.

The Labour Court also noted UPC’s “commitment not to track or record details of the staff’s personal use of company vehicles other than to record distances travelled and to protect against theft of, and other risks to, the vehicles”.

The court said in that context, it recommends that the union agree to the introduction of GPS devices into the fleet on a pilot basis for a period of 12 months.

The court also recommended that the company and union establish a committee of four (two from each side) to meet in the first three months after the introduction of the devices, and thereafter quarterly, to monitor the deployment and use of the devices during the trial period in the context of this recommendation.

The court said issues, if any, that cannot be resolved by the monitoring committee or that remain outstanding at the end of the trial period should be referred back to the Labour Court for a definitive recommendation.

A spokeswoman for UPC said: “UPC will be engaging with all relevant stakeholders. Until these discussions have concluded, we are not in a position to comment further at this point.”

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