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Unions hit out at KCC Facebook ban

Kent County Council has stopped employees from using Facebook
Kent County Council has stopped employees from using Facebook

KENT County Council is under fire over its decision to ban 32,000 staff from accessing the social networking website Facebook.

Trade union leaders have accused employers who have opted for an outright ban on the increasingly popular internet site of an over-reaction, saying they are acting unreasonably.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "Simply cracking down on the use of new web tools like Facebook is not a sensible solution to a problem, which is only going to get bigger.

"It's unreasonable for employers to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can't get their heads around the technology."

Employers should work out sensible guidelines and not over-react by trying to stop staff organising their personal lives, the TUC added.

KCC said it had moved to enforce a ban on Facebook over concerns that staff were spending too much office time on it. It has also baned access to You Tube, the video sharing website.

In a statement, the council said: "KCC has restricted access to the website Facebook as part of its overall electronic use policy. Like any other organisation, we have a responsibility to keep our IT systems secure and we're one of several large organisations that has taken this step."

Meanwhile, union representatives of KCC staff say there has been no consultation on the ban.

Unison branch secretary David Lloyd said: "From what we can ascertain, employees have not actually been told there is a ban. We have not had any form of consultation and until we know what the reasons are, it is difficult to say whether it is reasonable or not."

KCC said it had not needed to consult unions as the decision to restrict access to Facebook and other social and network dating sites was taken "with full regard to our Electronic Communications Use Policy and the Responsible Users Guidance which supplements the policy. Both of these have been the subject of extensive consultation and agreement with our Trade Unions."

In a statement, it said: "We do not therefore believe there was a need to consult with Unison on the decision to block Facebook within the agreed policy and framework.

"Because monitoring had indicated that these sites are being very heavily used, the block was put in place."

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