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A federal jobs guarantee demanded to prevent robots destroying jobs

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Australians are feeling insecure about how robots will effect their livelihoods, for good reason, any number of jobs from stock trading to manufacturing have been heavily impacted by automation.

A survey of 1075 Australians – conducted by YouGov, and commissioned by Unions NSW – found an overwhelming expectation robots will decimate jobs, with 81% of respondents believing automation will replace much of the work now done by humans within 30 years.

More than half of those surveyed (51%) said the type of work they currently do will be done by robots or computers within 30 years.

Australians also believe Government can and should step in, both to help distribute work and act as an employer of last resort, they also prefer to work with most favouring a jobs guarantee over a universal basic income.

Two-thirds of respondents (66%) agreed it should be illegal for employers to require employees to work unpaid overtime for jobs paying less than $100,000.

Slightly more – 67% – backed the concept of “job guarantee”, where the government would provide jobs paid at least at the minimum wage to people who could not find one in the private sector.

The research found less support for a universal basic income – a fixed payment made to all adult individuals that allows people to meet their basic needs. Half of all respondents supported a universal basic income. When asked if they prefer a jobs guarantee or a universal basic income, 56% opted for a jobs guarantee, while 32% preferred a universal basic income.

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Morey, said the research demonstrated deep anxiety about automation, and a hunger for governments to intervene and help.

“Australians have lost faith in the promises of trickle-down economists and small government ideologues. They know a robot army is about to invade the labour market and they want to know the government has a plan to secure their future.

“The OECD estimates more than one-in-three jobs will disappear within 15-20 years. Without a plan, this will unleash social turmoil.

“Jobs are the main mechanism we have for distributing income in this country. Across our supermarkets, banks, public transport and mines, robots are replacing people. This creates a direct transfer of wealth from workers to shareholders.

“Technology must serve people, not the other way around. This research shows that Australians support bold measures, such as a federal jobs guarantee and a ban on unpaid overtime. Political debate in this country is decades behind community sentiment.”

Image by Jeff under flicr cc attribution license

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