General Secretary of UNI Global Union, Philip Jennings explains: “A digital revolution is sweeping our world that is having a dramatic impact on workplaces everywhere. We have to be engaged in shaping the future world of work. This website is part of that. Together we must map what is happening, find the solutions and engage across the world. This is a collaborative effort across the whole of UNI. We have the stories, we have the opinions and now we must bring them to the wider world.”
The digital economy in all if its contours is effecting our sectors from job and task displacements, the expansion of robotics and artificial intelligence, new employment forms and the need for new skills. By pooling our stories from sectors and regions and bringing them together, our impact on how the future is shaped will grow.
We must act now. Artificial intelligence (AI) is developing so fast and into areas that could have grave effects on people and plant. UNI has called on a global convention on ethical AI and our voice is being heard. We must keep pushing. As companies accumulate more and more data on us, via our phones, our loyalty cards, our movements and not least our work-place activities, solid data rotection regulation is needed. Europe is improving, the US currently dismantling and many many countries of the world have no data protection. The risk of abuse is real. We must demand influence over the data collected on us as workers, we must be protected against abuse.
Data and big data are the very core of artificial intelligence, and the development of that. The Big 6 tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, IBM, Google, Microsoft and Apple), through their complex value and supply chains, currently own or control the vast vast majority of the world’s aggregated data. This gives them unprecedented power – both in relation to the development of AI, but also socially, economically and ultimately politically.
Our Breaking Through strategy is aimed at growing our unions. We must organise – also in the digital world with its new forms of employment, the global marketplace it creates and the increasing individualisation of work.
To facilitate this work and to continuously expand our knowledge, UNI has also created a digitalisation expert group. The group will interact online via a dedicated SharePoint portal. Here we will share documents, stories, video interviews and discuss opinions and developments Over 80 experts from our affiliates have already signed up – if your union hasn’t yet please register here.
As with the website – the success of the group depends on our collaborative, combined efforts. As is now widely discussed, today we have the responsibility and possibility to really shape the future of work. Developments can go in all directions – technological innovations know no limits by themselves. We must ask ourselves: What Society Do We Want? and then act on it now.
Jennings ends: “Leading up to our Liverpool congress in 2018, we must break through on the future world of work. Let’s get this right so the generations that follow us, have a good, sustainable and decent working life. Let’s unite our efforts to stop the growing exploitation of workers, the discrimination and the global inequalities that an unfettered digital economy will lead to.”