The centerpiece of IAM’s project on automation are member’s experiences we gathered through focus groups. Rank and file members across Canada participated and gave a clear picture of the impact of automation on their jobs and workplaces. More importantly, members have given us a mandate on what needs to be done to protect their jobs and livelihoods.
Below are just some of the findings from the focus groups.
- Over the last 20 years there has been significant change, so much so, that there aren’t many aspects of members’ jobs that haven’t been touched by automation
- 60% of members told us they experienced the effects of technological change in their positions
- 47% of members expressed that continued automation would make jobs more technical, easier to outsource and would increase the pace of work and output.
- Increasing digitization and computerization is leading to de-skilling, with members noting that, “the high routinization of jobs has reached a point where there is no difference between an off the street worker and one that’s trained.”
- Conversations with members also revealed that automation has not only impacted job tasks, but has intensified surveillance, and tracking of their productivity
- For many members, the issue of automation is closely connected to outsourcing, and they urged the union to address the close connection
Above all, there is an urgent need to raise awareness about technological change, because as one member put it, there is, “no realization [among members] how automated everything is. On a surface level, people welcome it. But, there is no deeper understanding. It’s death by a thousand cuts.”