B.C. union loses fight over lumber mill's new fingerprint time clock | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. union loses fight over lumber mill's new fingerprint time clock

A B.C. union has lost a fight against a lumber mill that started using fingerprint scans as a way for workers to clock in and out.

Canfor's Plateau Sawmill in Vanderhoof started using the fingerprint technology in June 2022 as part of a North America-wide initiative but the United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 fought against it.

The United Steelworkers union argued collection and use of the biometric data was "unreasonable and unauthorized" and breached B.C.'s Personal Information Protection Act.

According to a Jan. 12 Labour Arbitration Award, the touch identification system involves a worker scanning their fingerprint as a way to clock in to work and clock out of work. The data would then be used as a timesheet in order for workers to get paid.

The decision said currently the sawmill employs more than 200 workers and of its 58 North American sites the Vanderhoof mill is the only one where the union had fought against the introduction of the technology.

Canfor argued it saved a large amount of time and paperwork compared to the current system that largely works on the honour system.

The lumber mill argued the data was secure and a fingerprint cann't be reconstructed or reverse-engineered if the system was hacked and had "little or no value."

However, the advent of the system has been contentious.

READ MORE: Estimated 10% of Thompson-Okanagan residents on waiting lists for family doctors

The decision said around 100 workers signed a petition against the introduction of the fingerprint clock in system and five people have been fired for refusing to enrol in it.

Two of the five who were fired said using the system went against their religious beliefs and were fighting their dismissal, although the decision doesn't say what the outcome was.

The company argued only medical exceptions will be considered.

Ultimately, the Arbitrator sideed with the company.

"I find that Canfor’s use and collection of the Biometric Information through Touch ID is reasonable and authorized under Personal Information Protection Act," the Arbitrator ruled.

However, the Arbitrator did tell the company to consider all individual circumstances that may be covered under the B.C. Human Rights Code and to modify its requirement that only medical exemptions will be considered.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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