Workers in a Tesco warehouse in Dublin have revealed that they are required to wear digital tracking devices known as AMT’s (Arm Mounted Terminals) in order to have their productivity levels measured constantly in the workplace. The devices which are manufactured by Motorola are used to instruct warehouse staff such as forklift drivers on how to load their orders. A barcode must be scanned into the device identifying the product order to be filled, and it then allocates a time frame by which the task should be completed.
If the work was completed in the recommended time duration, the employee would receive a score of 100%. Potentially they could even receive 200% if they managed to complete it in half the period given. However, if they went over the allocated time span to complete the task, they would receive low productivity scores.
Workers, who load the trolleys to fulfill the orders at the distribution centre, reported that they were penalized with low scores on the device if they took a break or went to the toilet. Administrative staff, security personnel and managers at the warehouse were not required to wear the monitors.
Staff felt pressurised by the devices deducting percentage points if they stopped for a break, conscious that they had to work far harder on the next task to ensure they could scrape back a better score. One former worker noted that some employees managed to garner consistently high scores averaging 110% on most tasks, albeit by working non-stop and appearing exhausted. The unnamed ex-employee said management would call staff into their offices to improve their scores if they were low, with one manager allegedly confirming to him that low scores were as a result of taking breaks.
Employees’ official lunch break would not affect their productivity level score.
A spokesman for Tesco denied that workers productivity levels would fall if they stopped for a break or to go to the toilet, but he did admit that there is a break function on the device to monitor all stoppages. The spokesman insisted that breaks of up to 25 minutes per day were factored into the AMT’s and that their workplace practices were in agreement with the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) in Ireland.