Friday 13 December 2019

Vopak goes digital, but staff are unhappy about their movements being monitored

The Vopak terminal in Eemshaven. Wutsje via Wikimedia Commons

Workers at chemical storage company Vopak are concerned about a new electronic pass card that all workers will have to carry from next year, which will monitor everything they do, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.

The card will record where people are, if they are standing up or sitting down and even if they have a work permit, the paper said.

‘We have our real doubts about this,’ Cees den Breejen, of the company works council, told the paper. ‘We have no problem if this is about safety but this is very privacy-sensitive. Where someone walks, if he has gone to the loo… what is the company going to do with all this data?’

Vopak argues that the new system will boost safety and will, for example, send out a signal if the wearer is lying on the ground. ‘If someone is horizontal for some time, then the other badges in the neighbourhood will get a signal,’ CIO Leo Brand said.

The pass cards will first be tested in January and will also get an update allowing sound to be recorded, the FD said. Visitors to Vopak storage facilities will also be given such a card to wear.

The personnel monitoring is part of the company’s plans to implement the use of digital technology across all aspects of its operations, including the placement of robots in tanks to monitor for leaks and sensors to check if pumps and taps are working properly.

‘I think it will be very hard to prove that this monitoring falls within the bounds of privacy legislation,’ lawyer Thomas van Essen told the paper. ‘I’ve not come across a system which goes this far.’

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