Bus company reported after monitoring and firing employees
The union FOA has asked data watchdog Datatilsynet to investigate bus company Midttrafik after it fired or suspended nine ticket controllers in Aarhus based on data retrieved from controllers’ handheld work computers.
FOA, a trade union made up primarily of public sector employees, contend that the case was a “serious violation” of labour regulations and that Midttrafik was engaging in a witch hunt of employees who are active union members.
“We object to employers using work tools to monitor their employees, and in this case information from two different systems, without notifying them about it,” Kirsten Normann Andersen, the head of FOA's Aarhus chapter, told Avisen.dk. “Using that kind of data they could construct a case against any employee.”
The nine employees make up nearly half of the company’s ticket controllers in Aarhus and the group includes the union representative, the occupational health representative and several other leading union members.
Six of the nine controllers were fired because Midttrafik believed that they had tampered with their handheld computers. Midttrafik compared data from the devices with data from the GPS systems located in the buses to conclude they were not on the job at the times they said they were.
The remaining cases involved three controllers abusing their access rights to the CPR registry.
Midttrafik rejected the notion that they were going after union members and were awaiting a decision from Datatilsynet.
“Our lawyers maintain that Midttrafik is permitted to use data from GPS and PDA [handheld computers] if there are grounds to suspect irregularities,” Mette Julbo, the deputy head of Midttrafik, wrote to Avisen.dk.
But, Peter Erik Blume, a professor of law at the University of Copenhagen, argued that the employer has a right to use computer data only as long as the employees have been informed.
FOA hopes Datatilsynet will make an example of the bus company by punishing it for secretly monitoring the employees.
“The question Datatilsynet needs to answer is how Midttrafik came up with the idea to look into the things they did. Their reasons for investigating their employees are dubious,” Andersen told Avisen.dk.
The case comes just a few months after the Port of Aarhus and its chairman, Aarhus mayor Jacob Bundsgaard, were investigated by the police for breaching the mail-secrecy law for their role in the firing of three crane operators after their employer-supplied mobile phones were found to contain ‘disloyal’ text messages.