Staff at Asda in the Queslett neighbourhood of Great Barr, Birmingham, are fed up with the imposition of ‘scan-and-go’ machines, which are taking the place of the usual checkout tills. Where once there were 31 manned tills, there are now only 20, and workers fear that up to a dozen jobs may go by February next year.
As well as the threat to jobs in an area of very high unemployment, staff also complain that the scan-and-go machines will disadvantage shoppers who cannot supply an email address, particularly the elderly and children.
The enterprising workers have taken their case onto the streets, plastering ‘Save our jobs’ posters on bus stops and lamposts in nearby streets and asking customers to boycott the new machines. As well as trying to cut costs by substituting robots for wage earners, bosses are also sweating the remaining checkout workers harder, demanding that staff should scan 22 items every 60 seconds.
Bosses blame a ‘competitive retail market’ for making these costcutting measures necessary, but why should workers pay with their sweat and their jobs to preserve the profits of capitalism?
So long as the means of production are privately owned, automation is a constant threat to workers’ job security.
The CPGB-ML supports the fight of the Asda workers for jobs and employment. Workers must make it difficult for employers to implement measures that put profits before people.
Under a planned socialist economy there will be full employment; nobody will be denied the right to perform some useful work for society. In such a system of economy, automation can lighten the burden of work and free people up for other useful and interesting kinds of work.
That is why we should fight for socialism and bring an end to the anarchy and chaos of capitalism.
Party comrades in Birmingham have been leafleting in support of the Asda workers. We reproduce the text of the leaflet below.
Boycott Asda scan and go!
Asda Queslett, Great Barr, has introduced more Scan and Go machines. These automated tills are threatening the jobs of the existing workforce.
Rather than give these workers other tasks, including providing support for customers, it is abundantly clear that Asda will sack the former till operators. This is all in the interest of making money, not improving the service.
– Up to 12 people may lose their jobs in February 2019.
– Contracts of remaining staff will be amended (reduction of hours / redundancies) as there will not be enough internal vacancies.
– Staff have been told they are not allowed to discuss the matter with the public.
Support your fellow workers. Boycott the Scan and Go machines and demand Asda keep all its staff employed.
Machines aren’t the enemy; people before profit!