EDF Energy bosses have been accused of hypocrisy over the introduction of a vehicle tracker system for workers installing smart meters, but ruling them out in their own company cars.
Unite, the country’s largest union representing 270 meter installers and fixers, has called for a 24 hour strike at the energy giant on Monday 29 January, as it argues that the system does not just monitor where someone is, but also any lapses in driving performance which could lead to disciplinary action.
However, Unite said managers were not prepared to have these devices fitted in their company cars, nor were they prepared to take part in random drug and alcohol tests, which are also part of the dispute.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “What we have here is classic case of the bosses’ ‘them and us’ approach to employment relations which smacks of hypocrisy.”
The strike, starting at 00.01 on 29 January, will hit the tight timetable for EDF Energy’s programme of smart meter installation across London, the south east and south west.
Onay Kasab added: “The vehicle tracker system does not just monitor where you are, but monitors driver performance. Workers can face disciplinary action for uneconomical driving, breaking too hard, variations in speed - lapses that most people do at least once a day when driving to work.
“EDF Energy bosses have failed to give the assurances we need for our members, including not using the system for disciplinary purposes. Currently, we see the system as simply being another tool with which to attack staff.
“Managers, including those leading this implementation exercise, have said in meetings with Unite that they will not have them fitted in their own company cars, because they do not want them.
“Also, no progress has been made with regard to random drug and alcohol testing. Our position is that if this is to be introduced, it must apply to all staff and not be limited to staff out in the field.
“It is a simple argument based on fairness. If the company is really concerned about safety, it should be concerned about the safety of all staff.
“The 24 hour strike will mean cancelled appointments for customers when EDF is in the middle of a smart meter installation programme, with a tight timetable of appointments.
“We call on the management to enter into constructive talks to resolve this dispute, otherwise this will escalate in the weeks and months ahead.”
Unite members voted by an overwhelming 92 per cent for strike action over excessive monitoring, including the imposition of random drug and alcohol testing and tracking devices.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.