Italian minister slams Amazon's rumoured plan to tag workers
Rome: Italy's Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda on Friday slammed US online retail giant Amazon's move to patent electronic wristbands for its workforce, saying this would "never happen" in Italy.
"The only bracelets we make in Italy are the ones produced by jewellers," said Calenda, who summoned Amazon representatives to a meeting on Friday.
"I told them, and they understood, that such a thing, which is not in use but which has been patented, will never happen in Italy," he said.
Amazon claims the wristbands are a time-saving device for staff, meaning they don't need to scan the products' barcodes as they take them off shelves or alerting them when they're approaching the item they looking for.
"Patents take years to be approved and do not necessarily reflect current developments in our products and services," the company said in a statement.
At a electoral rally on Thursday, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni also voiced his opposition to electronic wristbands for workers. "The challenge is quality jobs, not jobs with electronic bracelets," he said.
The rumoured wristbands have been blasted by Italian politicians of all stripes and "electronic bracelets" was on Friday one of the top trending terms for Italian Twitter users, some of whom likened the plan to modern-day slavery or even Nazi death camps.
Amazon has been accused of dodging 100 million euros of tax in Italy and workers at its distribution centre in the northern city of Piacenza held strikes in December during the Black Friday retail bonanza on November 24 to protest pay levels and working conditions.