Staff at ASDA in Queslett, Great Barr, are fed up with the imposition of ‘scan and go’ machines, taking the place of the usual checkout tills. Where once there were 31 manned tills, there are now only 20, and workers fear that up to a dozen jobs may go by February next year.
As well as the threat to jobs in an area of very high unemployment, staff also complain that the ‘scan and go’ machines will disadvantage users who cannot supply the email address needed by these machines in order to check in. This will particularly affect the elderly.
The enterprising workers have taken their case onto the streets, plastering ‘Save Our Jobs’ posters on bus stops and lamp posts in nearby streets and asking customers to boycott the new machines. As well as trying to cut costs by substituting robots for wage-earners, bosses are also sweating the remaining checkout workers harder, demanding that staff should scan 22 items every 60 seconds!
Bosses blame a competitive retail market for making these cost-cutting measures necessary, but why should workers pay with their sweat and their jobs to preserve the profits of capitalism?
So long as the means of production are privately owned, automation is a constant threat to workers’ job security. But under a planned socialist economy, with full employment, automation can lighten the burden of labour and free workers up for more interesting kinds of work. That is why we should fight for socialism.