May 19, 2016

How Will Robots And Uber Change Our Lives? Special Taskforce Needed To Investigate Impact On Jobs, Workplace Rights

The issue will be considered by an expert panel at the Union’s national conference in Sydney’s west today. Panellists include Sydney University Law School’s Joellen Riley, NSW Shadow Assistant Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly.


TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said there was strong potential for a ‘hollowing out’ effect on middle class jobs, and an erosion of workplace rights.


“The impact of the share economy and automation is the sleeper issue in Australian politics. Malcolm Turnbull says it is exciting, but I suspect most Australians feel deep anxiety,” Mr Sheldon said.


“Nobody has explained how someone who drives a truck or a taxi will be able to feed their family when their job is consumed by technology. Cliches about agility, innovation and disruption don’t cut the mustard. The vast majority of Australians will not find work building apps.


“Nobody wants to hold back technology’s tide, but we need a serious national discussion about how the dividends of technology are fairly distributed. We must ensure we don’t end up in a jobs wasteland.


“The TWU would like the next Australian Government to form a wide-ranging taskforce to consider this issue. This taskforce needs to look into the real, lived experience of people whose jobs have been automated or eroded by the digital economy, going beyond the narrow analysis of the Productivity Commission to consider how families, communities and industries are affected.”


In the UK and US, respected economic thinkers such as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls and former US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers have made the point that democracies only thrive when prosperity is in reach of all citizens. The ‘gig’ or ‘share’ economy often casts itself as a contracted transaction, when in reality it is traditional work for pay without standard worker protections.


A Deloitte paper released on Monday also questions whether the technological change being ushered in will lift productivity or simply erode jobs for semi and low skilled workers. http://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/review-collaborative-economy-nsw.html

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