Unite has raised concerns over the possibility of staff at UK firms being implanted with microchips for security and efficiency purposes.
A handful of financial and legal firms are in discussions with Swedish technology company Biohax about fitting employees with microchips, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Biohax founder Jowan Österlund told the paper, “These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with. (The sub dermal microchips) would allow them to set restrictions for whoever.”
The chips, already used by thousands of staff in Scandinavia, are about the size of a grain of rice and are fitted into the skin between the forefinger and thumb.
Using radio-frequency identification, the chips can replace key cards, fobs and IDs.
Biohax has even struck a deal with Sweden’s national rail company to allow people implanted with the chips to use them in place of paper train tickets and plastic travel cards.
Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said “implanting microchips into workers raises serious privacy and monitoring issues”.
The union’s New Technology Agreement provides stewards with a template for workplace agreements concerning new technology, including for monitoring and surveillance purposes.
It states that data gathered on workers must only be used for legitimate and clearly stated purposes, that toilets and changing facilities must not be monitored, that communications with union reps must be free of employer monitoring or surveillance and that workers must have any data related to them revealed cost free if they request it.
Under Work, Voice, Pay, which is part of Unite’s industrial strategy, the union has been developing strategies to safeguard the future of jobs and communities as a wave of new technologies emerge.
Graham added, “Unite has looked into the threats and opportunities this new round of automation presents. The union is ensuring we give our stewards the necessary tools including a New Technology Agreement.
“We are also working with our stewards to create political demands to ensure work remains a central pillar of society for all. Workers should be getting a bigger share of the wealth created by advances in new technologies including a shorter working week, better retirement deals and up to speed apprenticeships.”