Labour Views – February 1, 2017
Written by: Alexander Lambrecht,
President, Northern Territories Federation of Labour
FUTURE WORKERS’ PLIGHT
We’re living at a time where the production of goods is fast-approaching the golden “zero-marginal cost” (aka Free Goods and Services). However, rather than allowing this level of technology to benefit society, industries are working to prevent the global collaborative commons from eclipsing capitalism – typical greed over humanity.
Technology and automation will inevitably replace many manual labour jobs that were traditional performed by humans, however, these jobs also brought many health and safety risks. The pro is less work related injuries, the con is the worker is no longer receiving an income. This is the cycle of technology, although when more and more workers are out of work and are relying on social assistance, but at what point will the system no longer be able to sustain the increased demand? And when companies are making record breaking profits due in large to the decrease in labour costs, then what is the most obvious solution to perpetuate a consumerist system when the consumers’ no longer have money?
Humans… we’re complex and slow to learn from past societal mistakes that lead to their demise. Around the world there is ever increasing tension over the cost-of-living, natural resources, water, climate change, overpopulation, overhunting and fishing. If we don’t start to focus on the basic human needs by ensuring that no barriers exist to accessible food, water and shelter – then we may soon begin to witness the first of revolutions that will be our turning point in history.
What will future jobs bring? We see it now in terms of fewer meaningful jobs and the growing incentives (i.e. higher profits, lower labour costs) for companies to only offer precarious work – Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it himself “Canadians Should Get Used to Short-Term Employment”.
Lower wages, no benefits or pension, short hours and no job security. Does this sound like a job you’d want to work or perhaps one or two or three you are working at this very moment? If you aren’t in this position take a second to think about future generations and the challenges they will face if this trend of precarious work is not stopped.
If Canadians should get used to short-term employment, then maybe our elected officials should get used to taking a pay and benefits cuts and increasing taxes on the wealthiest companies and people to fund public services and provide a guaranteed basic income to all Canadians.
The only precarious work that should exist is for politicians’ that use of double-speak to convince the public to go against their own interests. People have had enough of the guise of austerity, they’re fed-up with seeing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, only to receive a larger tax bill in April.
In 833 days, May 15, 2019 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. An infamous day that went down in history in Canada as the largest general worker strike – will the socioeconomic conditions be met? Well, if unemployment rises because of less meaningful work and inflation continues to increase faster than wages, then we may very well see another general worker strike – one without violence.
The reality we live in is strange when compared to what we’ve collectively achieved, but what is most strange is the delusion that our world is infinite, the good times will never end, but the insanity always continues. This must be what the early Greek and Roman Philosophers’ experienced in their time when they wrote about the many sufferings of humanity – Seneca specifically said it best when he said “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.”