What happens if workers don’t want telematics?

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Telematics has a number of important uses for fleet managers, end users and insurers and more and more people and companies around the world are adopting the technology to realise those benefits. However, not everyone likes the idea of it and sometimes workers specifically don’t want to be tracked by their employers at every hour of the day. But what happens when they don’t want it implemented so much that they threaten to strike over it?

That’s exactly what happened in the case for Finnish firm Kone, where 300 of its service engineers – who service lifts, doors and escalators in the UK – threatened to go on strike when it was announced that all of their vans would have telematics installed in them. They claimed that the system was inaccurate and unreliable and could therefore falsely report their location, speed or driving habits, leading to an unfair disciplinary action.

Those 300 workers took a day out back in April and were backed by their union Unite, which threatened further action if the telematics devices were not dropped. It also highlighted the case of one worker who had trialled the system, where it was reported that he drove over 1,000 miles without refuelling.

unite

This is obviously an explosive situation that needs to be rectified by management in order to avert a crisis. Fortunately then, Kone was able to do a deal with the union that the telematics devices would be installed, but that new safety measures would also be implemented to handle any problems that might arise.

“Both parties have agreed a common framework and terms of reference, and the ongoing industrial action in parts of our business will now cease,” said Kone’s HR director, Julie Dennell in a statement, (via FleetNews).

Unite’s national officer, Linda McCulloch also agreed that a middle ground had been found that left workers and the union satisfied that enough safety measures were in place that the technology would not inaccurately report worker activities.

“The agreement provides mechanisms that will ensure that [telematics] accurately records and measures the workloads of the employees,” she said.

While neither party would be drawn on what those measures were, we can speculate. Chances are a form of live reporting would be integrated into the vehicles, so that if a driver spots that they are being recorded erroneously or that an error has cropped up, they can report it straight away and prevent it from tarnishing their record. Similarly so, there may still be a reliance on traditional forms of reporting to back up and in some cases replace the telematics reports.

This is an important milestone for all companies looking to bring telematics to their business, as while there was a real difference of opinion on its application, a happy medium was found. That’s what all companies should be driving for.

Image source: MBWA PRN

 

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.