Saturday, March 29, 2008

Workplace Spying

Here's a tale of bosses spying on workers.
Lidl has been discovered spying on its staff. The German supermarket chain is accused of "Stasi methods". I find it irritating that the Grauniad, in its sometimes patronising way, thinks its readers require a reminder that the Stasi were the East German secret police. Note to Guardian: we are intelligent people and we know who the Stasi were.

The story says
The detectives' records include details of precisely where employees had tattoos as well as information about their friends. "Her circle of friends consists mainly of drug addicts," reads one record. The detectives also had the task of identifying which employees appeared to be "incapable" or "introverted and naive".
In the Czech Republic
A female worker was forbidden to go to the toilet during working hours. An internal memorandum, which is now the centre of a court case in the republic, allegedly advised staff that "female workers who have their periods may go to the toilet now and again, but to enjoy this privilege they should wear a visible headband".

Recording how a German employee identified as Frau M spent her break, one report read: "Frau M wanted to make a call with her mobile phone at 14.05 ... She received the recorded message that she only had 85 cents left on her prepaid mobile. She managed to reach a friend with whom she would like to cook this evening, but on condition that her wage had been paid into her bank, because she would otherwise not have enough money to go shopping."
It is just wrong that any employer should snoop into the private lives of its staff. These practices breach laws on freedom of movement and freedom of expression. What makes management believe they can override the rights of workers?
Lidl said "the purpose was "not to monitor staff, but to establish possible abnormal behaviour". So "establishing possible abnormal behaviour" makes snooping a legitimate management activity? What is "possible abnormal behaviour"? And could we have some more "abnormal behaviour".

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