Issue date
The rapid changes in work brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a sharp rise in the level of surveillance of people’s activities and performance at work, new Wales TUC research has revealed.
  • New Wales TUC/YouGov research shows that 25% of workers say that they have been subject to greater monitoring since Covid-19 crisis began.   
  • Only 1 in 4 workers feel that they have any power to object or prevent new forms of surveillance being deployed by their bosses. 
  • The union body is calling on Welsh Government to use its powers and influence to push back against over-reaching employers.       

25% of workers say that they have been subjected to closer surveillance since March 2020 and only 1 in 4 say that they feel comfortable objecting to such changes. These new methods are also often being brought in with no consultation with employees – with only 29% of those surveyed saying that they were asked about changes in advance.

The potential impact of heightened surveillance is significant with more than half of workers (56%) say introducing new technologies to monitor the workplace damages trust between workers and employers.

The Wales TUC published their research after Sarah Murphy MS, Senedd Member for Bridgend, today flagged her concerns on the issue at the Senedd.

Commenting on the findings, Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said:

“Worker surveillance tech has taken off during this pandemic and there is a real danger that we’re sleepwalking into a situation where intrusive and unwarranted monitoring of workers becomes the norm. We have to push back on this before it’s too late.

“These figures paint a worrying picture about the unchecked power that exploitative bosses hold in today’s labour market. All proposals for monitoring and work surveillance should be consulted on fully with workers. And it’s vital that Welsh Government uses what leverage it has to pressure employers into doing the right thing.”

Sarah Murphy MS said:

“Whilst conducting my own research with Professor Lina Dencik at the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University, we interviewed over ten different trade unions and found that this oppressive and widespread surveillance is resulting in workers feeling stressed, demotivated, unappreciated, and distrusted – breaking down the necessary respect between workers and employers.”

“This includes tracking and logging workers every move via wristbands, including when they are on toilet breaks; forcing drivers to have to urinate in bottles because an algorithm has set them an impossible number of deliveries for the day so they cannot afford to take a break; and people working from home having facial recognition technology used on them via their laptop without their consent.”

“This is extremely concerning which is why I want to continue to work with the Wales TUC to raise these alarming figures and testimonies with Welsh and UK Government.”