Monday, October 5, 2015

Technological Change Under Capitalism - Eliminates Jobs At A Faster Rate Than New Ones Are Created

Ned K.

The Australian Financial Review on Friday 2 October 2015 contained an article headed "Robots to take 40pc of low-skilled jobs". It said that big financial groups ANZ Banking, AMP, IBM and Westpac are about to automate back office, finance and human resources functions as the Information Technology automation market increases from US$183 million in 2013 to US$1.98 billion by 2020. The 'thinking robots' will reduce labour costs by nearly 50% which is the main motivator for these large financial institutions.

The Report Management Advisory firm, Mindfields is quoted as saying, "The expected cost savings are dramatic and will be hard to ignore, but Robotics and Process Automation will have a significant impact on labour markets, leading to a change in hiring strategy and the mix of staff required."

What this means in real terms for thousands of workers' livelihoods is brushed off by Mindfield by saying "staff reduction strategies will also be required where staff members are not able to be trained for other jobs".

Competition between capitalists at each stage of capitalism's development has revolutionized the productive forces resulting in massive changes to the 'world of work'. The problem for the people is that the changes to the productive forces are implemented to suit the needs of a very small percentage of the population, what the Occupy movement called "the 1%".

 In Australia, the changes in how and when new technology is implemented are often decided by "a 1%" whose Board Rooms and key decision makers are in New York, Hong Kong, London or some other major centre of finance capital. With the collapse of the 'resource boom' and the closing down of the car and car component industries in Australia over the next couple of years, the plans of the big financial institutions in Australia to replace thousands of white collar jobs with robots cold not come at a worse time.

Where will these redundant workers find new jobs? Free Trade Agreements are unlikely to see creation of jobs on a mass scale. Warehousing jobs may increase but even in warehousing the trend to automate manual jobs is increasing.

For all the hype about the need for increased security of property and people due to increases in crime and individual acts of desperation of disillusioned individuals, even job opportunities in the security industry have declined over the last two decades. Cameras have replaced security guards at building entrances. Alarm systems have replaced mobile security car patrols.

Even in aged care, Japanese companies have invented 'talking' aged care robots who attend aged care residents and provide them with meals and even move them in and out of their beds!

Mining companies operate trucks and rail transport from control centres thousands of kilometres away from the mines. 

Marx wrote about the historic role of capitalism to revolutionize the productive forces, a process in the 21 Century we are seeing accelerate at a rapid rate. He also explained that capitalism was incapable of sharing the benefits of technological change and of satisfying the needs of the working people.

Only determined struggle through which the workers of each country win control of their country’s wealth and become the ruling class can achieve this.

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