UNI DGS Christy Hoffman: “We must seize the opportunity to create decent jobs in the future world of work”
At the recent meeting of UNI Japanese Liaison Council, UNI Deputy General Secretary Christy Hoffman set out the challenges and opportunities of the Future World of Work and confirmed that this issue will continue to be one of UNI’s top priorities.
"Today, many workers across the service sectors are facing the sweeping changes of the 4th Industrial revolution,” said Hoffman. “As the organization that represents over 20 million service sector workers around the world, we must provide leadership and expertise on how to tackle these challenges.”
“Too many workers feel abandoned and pessimistic about their future, feeding right wing populism and isolationism."
"It is in this environment that we face today’s explosion of digital technology, creating an imperative that unions step up and engage. We don’t have any time to waste. “
Hoffman stressed that the pace and scale of change is likely to be unprecedented. “Experts predict that – using current technologies, 45% of current tasks could be eliminated. So even if there will be enough jobs, and that is far from guaranteed, the speed of transformation will be much faster than what we have previously experienced in history and this will be coupled with a nearly constant need for upskilling in order to fill the new jobs.”
Hoffman noted the explosion of the number of “independent contractors” – often used in a transparent effort for companies to avoid their obligations as employers, such as unemployment insurance, pension contributions, paid time off, and minimum wages.
Recent legal decisions against Uber in the U.S. and the UK found that that workers are employees, rather than ‘self-employed’ as the company claims. “These decisions prove that attempts to side step social responsibilities by the big players in the digital economy will be challenged at every turn ,” said Hoffman.
“We must adopt strategies to reinforce a recognized employment relationship and at the same time create decent alternatives for those who choose to be truly independent,” said Hoffman in conclusion.
“We know that technology has the potential to free us from drudgery, to unleash unimaginable potential and, in the process, make it possible to save our planet. Our challenge as unions is to seize the opportunity of a new world of work and create decent jobs for workers everywhere.”