Konica Minolta in row over tracking devices in staff’s cars

2015-07-22 09:30

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A LEGAL feud has erupted between Konica Minolta and former staff who refused to have tracking devices fitted in their private cars, saying it is a breach of privacy.

Three technicians have been dismissed and the jobs of several others hang in the balance after staff members at the Camps Drift branch of Konica Minolta refused to allow the company to install tracking devices in their privately owned vehicles which are used to carry out their business.

According to one ex-staff member, a few months ago the company tried to “force” their technicians to install tracking devices which could monitor their whereabouts at any time of the day, “in order to curb fuel costs”.

When the men refused, saying it was a breach of their right to privacy after working hours, they were told they would be dismissed.

However, branch manager Pieter van Zyl told The Witness yesterday that the company maintains that the dismissals are “procedurally correct and substantively fair processes, in accordance with the Codes of Good Practice”.

According to the ex-staff member who asked not to be named, the company provided a monthly stipend for maintenance of their personal vehicles and allowed them to claim for the petrol used on jobs — however the bills being claimed were too high.

“We had no choice in the matter. When we refused, we were all suspended in May. After a hearing in June, three of us were dismissed,” the man said. “It is upsetting. Many of us have devoted our lives to the company, working there [Konica Minolta] for around a decade. It is difficult to start afresh and provide for our families without a job now.”

The man said the group of disgruntled ex-workers have taken legal action against the company which is to be taken to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), alleging unfair dismissal.

Van Zyl confirmed that disciplinary action was taken against the group of workers for “refusing to comply with instructions” to install a tracker system in their vehicles used for company business which, he says is a condition of ­employment, and for which they are compensated. “We look forward to our actions being vindicated in the appropriate legal forum,” said Van Zyl.

The Witness spoke to an independent labour attorney yesterday who said the matter does sound like an invasion of privacy.

“Their vehicles are not a tool of trade or a company asset. They [the staff] might have a strong case here,” the attorney said

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