Saturday, September 21, 2013

Economy: About Unions & Robots

(Drivebycuriosity) - There is lot of discussion about robots destroying jobs. Indeed companies use more and more robotic systems to reduce  their costs of labor. Robots - and automats in general - can execute a rising number of tasks cheaper than workers do. I believe that the sluggish growth of the U.S. job market  is partly a result of the ongoing automation & robotization.

But there are also other drivers. Last week, the German branch of the U.S. e-commerce-giant, got badgered by the unions again. Amazon employes, who are organized in the German union Ver.di, were striking.

ABC news reported, that workers at two distribution centers in Germany (Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld) have walked off the job in an ongoing dispute over wages with the American online retailer (abcnews). There have been some strikes before. We also learned that the union threatens to disturb the upcoming holiday season business (Christmas sales).

Those strikes don´t just hamper the online company, they also disappoint customers who expect a punctual delivery of their orders. Parents wouldn`t be happy, if they would be empty handed at Christmas because their presents would not arrive in time as a result of a strike.

I reckon that those strikes and threads are pushing Amazon and other retailers to accelerate their automatization. Amazon already uses robotic systems to reduce their costs and their fulfillment times. Last year the online retailer bought Kiva Systems, a manufacturer of robots that scuttle around warehouses filling orders (cnn).

Robots don´t fight for higher wages, they don´t demand better working place condition, they don´t sue about sexual harassment and - robots don´t strike.

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