Worker and Job Automation: How can a union help?

We’re living in an age defined by technology and its advances. These rapidly evolving technological trends have changed the way we socialize, they way we entertain ourselves, the way we educate, the way we travel, and the way we consume products and services. But that’s not even close to the only thing technology has changed; technology has also changed the way businesses are operated, and is drastically impacting the lives of workers because of it.

The concepts of automation and artificial intelligence are by no means new, but more and more we’re seeing these systems being used to replace human workers throughout almost every industry imaginable. Here are just a few examples of automated systems replacing jobs:

Customer service: How many times have you called a company only to speak to an automated machine? The customer service industry is slowly but surely becoming a human-less industry dominated by technology.

Self-driving trucks: Although this is a newer technology still in development stages, we’ll be seeing self-driving truck on the road in no time, once again, reducing the amount of jobs available to workers in the industry.

Self-checkouts: Grocery stores and supermarkets all over the world are hiring fewer and fewer cashier staff. Fast food restaurants are also taking this approach with ordering kiosks, where customers can now order from a computer instead of speaking to someone at a counter.

These are just a few of the many examples of automation in the workplace, and they don’t stop there. From automated data entry software to warehouse processing equipment, jobs are becoming more and more automated, and hardworking members of our society are being displaced.

It is not our goal as a union to stop technological progress or protest against efficiency. It is however, our goal to protect workers. So here’s where we stand on the subject of process automation.

We want to see the government do its part in ensuring that Alberta workers are always protected, and we want to see job security in the midst of these technological advancements. We believe that there should be systems in place that require employers to either keep workers on to oversee and maintain the newly automated systems, or to retrain workers to be positioned somewhere else within the company.

We would also love to see a premium tax for businesses that are choosing to automate their processes. This tax would then be put towards re-training workers so they can find work in another skilled field, without a risk of being unemployed. Although no official decisions have been made about the premium tax or re-training programs discussions about it have taken place within government.

Keeping an eye out for trends that pose as a threat to workers in Alberta is a part of what we do, and we’ll work tirelessly to ensure that you and your fellow workers are protected and treated fairly in the workplace. If you have any questions about how we can help you protect your job or prepare for the future, contact us.


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