Fleet management firm ING Car Lease says it has encountered instances where unions have supported drivers who are unwilling to give up information, citing data protection concerns.
Diamuid Fahy, fleet risk manager at ING Car Lease said: “While we understand the need for privacy. All the information gathered for risk management purposes is governed by the Data Protection Act and can only be used to monitor fleets from a risk perspective.
“We want to allay any fears union representatives may have about the rise of a ‘big brother’ culture and help them to understand that what we’re doing is ultimately good for their members.
“It’s ironic that unions have their members’ best interests at heart yet could be inadvertently increasing their exposure to accidents at work by discouraging drivers from providing vital information.”
The claims were rebuked by TUC senior health and safety policy officer Hugh Robertson, who said it was employers that were in the wrong.
He said: “Unions have been at the forefront of raising these issues in the workplace. It is employers who fail to consult or do not respond to requests by unions for action.
“The TUC has called for several years for occupational driving to be seen as a priority by both employers and the HSE, and unions also want safety representatives to have a legal right to be consulted on risk assessments.”
Mr Fahy is now urging employee organisations to back safety initiatives.
He added: “If we can work together to calm any fears about privacy and create open dialogue between the fleet industry and employee groups, we will go a long way to improving fleet safety.
Fleet News called a number of fleet managers and while there were very few reported cases of problems with unions, many had encountered problems in obtaining the required information from employees.
But as one said: “The problem seems to be more our drivers being lazy than having a strongly-held belief in the right to privacy!”