“I read the news today oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade…” which recently tends to be a dot.com entrepreneur who has made billions from a tech start-up employing a handful of people. These success stories are usually accompanied by reports of a company downsizing, rationalizing, restructuring, consolidating, streamlining or one of many ingenious euphemisms used to soften the news of job losses. The workers are always the first to feel the slice of the austerity cleaver. The business is butchered to provide maximum profit for its shareholders with its employees consigned to the offal pile; leaving a lean, mean, money making machine.
Often automation is a cause of the job losses or the positions get outsourced abroad, where unions and workers rights are scarce and they can be exploited with criminally poor pay and working conditions. The human right to work is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 23.1 ‘Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment’. It is a human right under threat and governments across the world need to pay more attention to it.
This is the intro to an article I had published on Contributoria which is getting a fresh airing on the 38 Degrees Manchester website.
I added a new link that takes you to an online tool that tells you how at risk your job is to automation, based on a study from Oxford University.