The Workers Union has urged the government to offer “alternative futures” for British workers affected by Coronavirus and automation.
The statement emerged as the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce released a report that examines the effects of increasing automation on sectors of the economy hardest hit by COVID-19.
The report argues that alternative future support for businesses should take the form of a ‘two-track’ scheme. In addition to the existing arrangements, there should be another pathway for especially vulnerable industries. This would see more non-contributory funding for wages as well as the introduction of transitional arrangements for workers who are at most at risk from Coronavirus and automation. It would also provide a form of basic income payable while staff retrained for new jobs.
The Workers Union Says
The Coronavirus pandemic is likely to change the face of work forever. Technology is disrupting traditional practices while artificial intelligence and automation replace human labour.
For workers in areas like hospitality and manufacturing, the risks to their jobs are manifest. And this isn’t happening beyond some distant event horizon. It’s real and it’s happening now.
The Workers Union believes in the value of work and the value of British industry. We want to see the government secure the future of people who stand to become victims of ‘vanishing’ jobs. If we take steps to retrain and retain British talent, then we have a great chance of winning in the global marketplace by offering an alternative future strategy. If we fail to take up the challenge, then we must watch while our competitors overtake us.
We can’t allow that to happen. The consequences for a generation would dwarf the social and economic changes of the 1980s and leave a trail of devastation in its wake.
So, while we welcome the findings of this report, we also want to see the government expand on its recent review and focus on the human cost of automation. This must be part of a wider commitment to making the alternative jobs of the future work for all of us.
The Workers Union – Britain’s hardest working union