Interesting article on the automation of baggage handling above. Notice the tone and the focus. It states that “This initiative will…….lessen the chance of human error, minimize loss and damage, and reduce the time required to load and unload aircraft” and “with the reduction of manual processes, these robotics will allow airports to cut costs due to less risk and delays.” Surely, the primary purpose of new technology should be to increase workers leisure time, improve living standards and reduce our impact on the environment. This shouldn’t be, at best, an after thought.
“….robotics across the airport will make traveling smoother, safer, and more comfortable. Moreover, they will also eventually drive up the standards of living, as higher-skilled professionals will earn more.” Eventually?! Maybe?! If you’re lucky?! In the employers hands, technologies main functions are to reduce, to de-skill or spy on the workforce. It is also a useful tool of discipline for them. With the help of the media, they cultivate the idea that all jobs will be automated away soon. Bosses present themselves as innovative, super inventors. Always ready to pull out, the next amazing piece of job destroying technology, from up their sleeve. Most times the reality is different. If it works at all, the new machinery doesn’t always save the amount of hours expected and employers usually require the workforce to collaborate in the application of new technology. Workers often perform all the trouble shooting. Using their knowledge and experience to rectify the “teething problems.” It’s important for workers to not just take the bosses word for it and to really look into the technology that’s being proposed. Management likes to threaten workers with job losses, attempting to scare them into accepting pay cuts and reduced benefits. Productivity growth (the average amount of labour hours it takes to produce goods and services) has remained low in most of the US and western Europe, because workers have been willing to work for less, meaning employers haven’t had an incentive to invest in expensive machinery.
“….some staff will inevitably have to adapt to the changes and gain new skills. Nonetheless, management is happy to support them with that.” Bosses always emphasise the extent to which “workers have to adapt” to the technology. This is the complete reverse of the way technology should be developed, produced and introduced. Workers needs, should be the first and foremost consideration at every stage. The only way to guarantee this, is for workers and their communities, to be in direct control of those decisions.
The stated aim of the technologies rollout is to facilitate, the development of the airports concerned, into aviation hubs. “Krasnodar International joins Anapa and Sochi as part of a broader system called Airports of the South. The management behind these sites is keen to develop the three airports with the aim to build a strong aviation hub in the south of Russia that would have the potential to compete with existing powerhouses.” Is this in the best interest of the workers and local community? If it ends up so, it will be entirely by accident. As with all decisions made in our economies, workers interests are assumed to be the same as the interests of money. “If rich folk think it’s a good idea, it must be.” Workers need to imagine an economy that uses technology and infrastructure for the benefit of all people and the planet. And then build the sense of togetherness and power that will help bring it about.
Sending solidarity to baggage handlers in Russia and everywhere!
Heathrow Workers Power