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The question Tagging at work

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has introduced wrist tags to keep tabs on staff in its larger distribution centres.

So we ask: Innovative or inhumane, what could this offer construction?

? The introduction of tagging in the construction industry, or anywhere else, would be so great a retrograde step in industrial relations - let alone any implications for personal dignity or human rights - that the abolition of wages and the re-introduction of slavery would surely not be far behind.

We all know people who never seem to be as capable or hardworking as ourselves, but is this not human nature - as well as being partly due to ineffectual management? Some of the best ideas originate from casual remarks made by workmen or junior employees.

Would this continue if they felt resentment or were so busy fighting the system?

Charles Beck, retired, Worcestershire It is not so much the action of electronically tagging employees, as what the results of tagging will be used for. A human trait is to criticise and put down rather than to encourage or empower.

Sainsbury's, like any other employer, can choose to use staff monitoring in a number of ways. Should they choose to use it to assist their staff, as they suggest they might, then surely they are not only being humane and innovative but also will be presenting a change in human nature that will empower and better their staff. However, should they choose to use it to highlight areas of inefficiency and use this to criticise and put down their staff, then it would indeed be fair to say they will be acting inhumanely.

Trust will dictate the success or otherwise of this scheme. If there is a trusting relationship between employer and employees then there should be no reason to oppose electronic tagging. But the same argument can be used to ask why there is a need for electronic tagging in the first place.

Glenn Foster, 27, graduate engineer, Leicester This would never work on site as there would be no way to control it. It would demoralise the workforce and as a result reduce productivity.

It would increase the 'them and us' scenario within every site environment. How would you monitor the myriad of subcontractors working on any given site? And who looks after Big Brother's productivity?

Allan Bowers, 29, contracts engineer, Glasgow The authorities can tell where you are from the fact that your mobile phone is switched on.

They are monitoring your calls using key words. Shops' cameras can see employees' every movement just as well as the shoplifters plying their trade. I am afraid that Sainsbury's tag is just another improvement in general surveillance. If you are doing nothing wrong you are OK.

Obviously there is some benefit but it is offset by the intrusion into our lives in general. Watch that camera on the street wall!

Andrew Worby, 52, solicitor, Bath

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