Congress believes that the development of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data, block-chain and growing automation will transform the world of work in the years to come.
Congress notes that these technologies have potential to significantly improve the experience of workers in the UK, but that there are also risks associated with a loss of transparency and accountability, the misapplication of new technology or a narrow focus on cutting costs by replacing jobs instead of enhancing quality.
The challenges ahead are enormous and could do irreparable damage to public service provision. Workers in professional roles will not be immune from the changes. The exploitation of all workers is a real risk. Congress notes that these changes will be felt particularly sharply in financial services – where it is estimated that up to 30 per cent of jobs in the sector could be potentially automatable by 2029 across advanced economies. The rise of challenger banks and companies operating in the shadow banking sector – many of which are not unionised – will pose additional challenges in the sector.
Congress also notes the potential digital dividend that could be realised as
a result of the application of new technology. This transformation will only be
successful if workers have a real voice in how technology is developed and used.
Congress expresses solidarity with tech workers, at Google and elsewhere, who are campaigning for collective voice, better working conditions and against bullying and harassment.
Congress further believes that the trade union movement has a responsibility not just to respond to technological change, but to actively shape the future of work.
Trade unions should be at the forefront of campaigning for the ethical and socially responsible development of AI and new technology, including a collective voice for tech workers.
Congress therefore calls on the TUC to:
i. campaign for worker voice in the development, introduction, and operation
of new technologies in the workplace, including through new technology
agreements in collective bargaining arrangements, lobby for legislation to
guarantee trade union consultation through the automation process and
support union efforts to develop agreements with employers that provide
job security, income security and fair share of productivity gains when new
technologies and ways of working are introduced
ii. support campaigns to expand collective bargaining coverage in the tech sector, and explore strategies for building solidarity between tech workers and those impacted by new technology
iii. campaign for worker representation in government bodies concerned with
the impact of new technology on our economy and society and call on the
government to establish a Future of Work Commission involving unions and
employers, to ensure a just transition and that the digital dividend does not
simply accrue to the tech giants and entrench existing inequalities support investment in workforce skills, with a focus on improving access for
underrepresented groups in STEM, in particular women.
v. lobby for new legislation and enforcement on fair use of algorithms in
vi. support mechanisms to reduce working time in line with productivity increases
vii. organise for recognition agreements to include workers’ ownership of
viii. support the development of the TUC’s new Digital Lab initiative, to help unions develop their digital capacity and campaigning
ix. support unions in understanding, assessing and considering the oncoming
waves of automation among workers.
Supporters: Community, FDA