Mineworkers’ Union wants protection against automation

gold-bars The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union has called for a well-defined labour structure in the mining industry that would protect workers against job cuts as a result of the increasing automation of mining operations.

The union says although it is not against automation or robotisation of operations in the sector, the introduction of such technology needs to be executed in the way that would not adversely affect workers.

“Whether automation, digitisation, robotisation or artificial intelligence, it is taking our jobs and creating uncertainty among mineworkers,” said Mr Abdul-Moomin Gbana, Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union.

In an interview with ADR Daily in Accra on the effects of automation, Mr Gbana said automation, which involves the introduction of technology driven systems that perform tasks that humans undertake at the workplace, was rapidly taking hundreds of jobs in the sector.

He said although the objective of automation is good, workers should not be made to suffer, adding that a well-defined structure would help organisations to strike a balance for enhanced productivity.

According to him, such a structure would be instructive in taking several measures such as diversifying operations and retraining workers to take up news tasks, instead of having to be laid off as a result of automation.

He had the perception that automation should necessarily lead to job cuts is not wholly accurate because research has shown that with every segment of operation that is automated, more jobs are created.

The creation of more jobs out of the automation process, he said, should rather be the focus of employers, and not laying off workers.

The issue of the automation featured prominently in the just ended 106th International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference in Geneva under the theme, “The future of work.”

And Mr Gbana is hopeful that having deliberated on the issue, the ILO would adopt a convention to protect workers against the automation advancement.

In that regard, he noted that the Union awaits Ghana’s delegation to the ILO conference to brief organised labour about the decisions taken about the concept of automation.

Internet Society and global technology forecasters have predicted a rapid growth in artificial intelligence in the next few years.

For instance, Forrester, one of the largest American market research companies that provide advice potential impact of technology, in a new report, titled “Predictions 2017: Artificial Intelligence will drive the insights revolution,” projects that investments in AI are set to grow by 300 per cent in 2017 alone.

According to the Internet Society also, the private sector’s acknowledgement and interest in the opportunities and investments in AI has grown over the past several years.

“Major corporations have invested in developing AI technologies, but at the same time, workers fear that their livelihood could be replaced by machines. There are serious questions as to who will benefit and who may lose,” the Internet Society said in its AI Public Policy Report.

 

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