THE TRADE Union Congress has conducted a survey which indicates that more than half of workers in the UK, some 56%, are being monitored by their boss. Bosses are reading workers’ emails, filming them through hidden cameras, searching employees in the morning on the way into work and before they leave, measuring their ‘productivity’, timing their toilet breaks and even tracking their movements and location using electronic tags!
This level of surveillance makes the dystopian future painted in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four seem pale in comparison. TUC boss Frances O’Grady said: ‘Monitoring toilet breaks, tracking every movement and snooping on staff outside of working hours creates fear and distrust.’
The TUC research shows that bosses:
• Use facial recognition software and mood monitoring.
• Monitor the social media accounts of employees.
• Record workers’ locations on wearable or hand-held devices.
Truck drivers have their every move monitored by an onboard tracking system which records the vehicle’s location, speed and stops for breaks. Installing spy cameras in drivers’ cabins is a move the truckers say breaks the camel’s back – and they are furious! When an undercover journalist took a job at a Sports Direct warehouse, the results were shocking. A fingerprint scanner grants access to the building through security barriers.
A tannoy system blares out if workers don’t move quickly enough – ‘please speed up with your order as soon as possible’, the speaker system barks – while ‘crimes’ against the company are called ‘strikes’. These ‘crimes’ include ‘errors’, ‘excessive/long toilet breaks’, ‘time wasting’, ‘excessive chatting’, ‘horseplay’, ‘wearing branded goods’ and ‘using a mobile phone in the warehouse’. These are all punished. Six strikes in six months and you’re out. Quite fittingly the warehouse in Shirebrook is known locally as ‘the gulag’. Now, Amazon has patented a wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ every movement and uses ultrasound to identify the precise location of a worker’s hands as they retrieve items.
Amazon already has a reputation for turning low-paid staff into ‘human robots’ – working alongside thousands of proper robots – carrying out repetitive packaging tasks as fast as possible in an attempt to hit goals set by handheld computers. Machines are constantly taking over jobs. Supermarket cashiers have been replaced by machines, as have bank workers and London Underground ticket office workers.
Capitalism offers zero future for the working class. Either work like a robot, or a robot will take over your job! This is the madness of capitalism; it must be overthrown! The Office for National Statistics (ONS), earlier in the week produced new figures on ‘productivity’. The ONS also said ‘output per hour’ was up by 1.5% – the biggest rise since late 2016, while also showing that wages had not risen.
In other words, workers are being driven to work harder and faster for less and less money. This is the essence of capitalism, to squeeze as much profit out of every single worker as they can. And what in return? Workers are now given a wage so low it does not even cover the minimum they need to feed their family, pay their gas, electric and rent and get back to work the next day. As a result, many take out payday loans just to pay their bills. You have the emergence of the working poor and now the working homeless. This is the world that the TUC has discovered in its survey.
It is a world that the TUC and the UK trade union movement has allowed to emerge right under their noses without lifting a finger to stop it. Automation under capitalism means the bosses returning the working class and its youth back to the conditions of the early 19th century.
It can only be used for the benefit of humanity if the capitalist system and the capitalist class are removed and replaced with a worldwide socialist planned economy.
After its amazing discovery, the TUC cannot be allowed to go back to sleep. The major trade unions at September’s TUC Congress must propose and push through a motion that the TUC calls a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government that will use automation and other advanced technologies to drive forward a planned socialist economy to provide a decent life for all in place of the hell on earth that the Tories and the bosses are planning. The Young Socialists will be lobbying the TUC on Sunday September 9 – make sure that you are there.