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Technological surveillance of workers an unacceptable grey area - Louise O’Reilly TD

19 April, 2023 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that new research from the Financial Services Union shines a light on the unacceptable grey area of technological surveillance of workers.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Surveillance of workers throughout their working day is not a new phenomenon, however, in the post-pandemic working world, the nature and scale of technological surveillance has increased significantly.

“Over the past number of years, there have been increased domestic and international reports, from workers and trade unions, of employers profiling workers’ electronic equipment.

“This surveillance is not only confined to remote working, it also takes place in an on-site work setting through the use of monitoring software and privacy-busting software to track workers throughout the working day.

“In March 2021, I raised these concerns with the Minister for Enterprise only to be told that such matters are not covered in terms of employment rights law or employment terms law.

“New research from the Financial Services Union (FSU) has shed significant light on the practice of technological surveillance of workers.

“The research found that one quarter of respondents reported their employer had increased data collection on their work since they started remote working and over half felt that surveillance at work was a violation of privacy.

“In terms of the psychological impact on workers, two thirds of those surveyed felt surveillance was demoralising and indicated that surveillance increased their stress levels.

“There is no doubt that the technological surveillance of workers is an unacceptable grey area in terms of surveillance, monitoring, privacy, and data use, collection, and storage.

“This whole area needs to be investigated and legislated for, and I wholeheartedly agree with the FSU that this must begin with a detailed investigation and report into the use of surveillance in the workplace and the subsequent legislative changes required to best protect workers and provide for a worker’s voice on the issue.”

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