The Competence Centre Future of Work and UNI Europa publishes together the new report “Artificial Intelligence and Automation in Retail. Benefits, challenges, and implications (a union perspective)“ carried out by Wil Hunt and Steve Rolf , Research Fellows at the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit) at the University of Sussex.
The aim of the project was to help our affiliates in the Commerce sector to get a timely insight into how technological trends are reshaping retail and the role of Covid-19 as the driver and define the role of trade unions in relation to all changes.
The report outlines recent technological developments in the retail that are linked to AI and automation and discusses the implications for consumers, retail organisations and – especially – workers and unions.
The wholesale and retail trade sector is the largest private-sector employer in the EU. However, many retail workers are often employed under precarious work conditions. According to EuroCommerce & UNI-Europa, retail workers are paid 30% below the hourly average.
The digitalisation of the retail sector has advanced rapidly as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail firms invest in new technology aiming to achieve a greater productivity while reducing costs. For many workers, digitalisation brings potential benefits too such as greater flexibility in the timing and location of work. However, the use of AI and automation bring new challenges to the workplace. Task allocation, scheduling and predictive systems often involve extensive gathering of data that leads to the increasing worker surveillance and monitoring.
Therefore, the digital transformation in retail needs to include workers’ perspective. At the joined online event by FES and UNI Europa of the report “Artificial Intelligence and Automation in Retail. Benefits, challenges, and implications (a union perspective)“ we discussed benefits, challenges, and implications of artificial Intelligence and automation in retail. The event took place place on 7 April 2022.
The report was presented by the two researchers Wil Hunt and Steve Rolf from the University of Sussex. The outcomes were discussed by a panel of key participants. In a first part, we discussed together with Ernst Ekkehard, Chief Macroeconomist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Jiri Branka from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), the impacts of AI and automation in retail, while focussing on employment restructuring and job change. In a second part we discussed policy initiatives and the role for trade union, together with Pilar Rato, Vice-President of UNI Europa and Jenny Wrangborg, Researcher at the Commercial Employees' Union.
Click here for our agenda.
Cours Saint Michel 30e
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