Strike out: Industrial action could accelerate the shift to automated jobs

Set against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, the so-called “summer of discontent” in the U.K. — which has seen strikes from railway workers, criminal barristers, Post Office employees, teachers, airport staff, healthcare staff, and others—looks likely to extend through the winter. And the feeling of dissatisfaction is not limited to the U.K., with workers downing tools across the globe.

Although the U.K. lawyers finally stepped away from the picket line in early October, accepting the government’s 15% pay raise, Royal Mail staff and railway workers are currently participating in long-running industrial action to resolve disputes about salary and working conditions. 

Ironically, the crux of the matter is job security, yet the prolonged absence from work only strengthens the argument for investing in automation that will, ultimately, reduce headcount.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

What business leaders can learn from the rise of cross-industry U.K. strikes and union activism in the U.S.

It’s ironic that Britons, who stereotypically bask in small talk about the weather, are experiencing a so-called “summer of discontent” as temperatures hit record highs. The strike action in late June of railway workers, followed by criminal barristers, is likely to be copied in the coming weeks by inflamed teachers, airport staff, and healthcare workers, among others. 

With the cost-of-living crisis raging, it’s a tinderbox. And while it’s broadly understood that the predominant reason for the strike action is pay, some believe there is more to it. In fact, employees feeling they are not being heard by leadership is at the crux of the issue.

Business leaders in the U.K., U.S., or elsewhere would be wise to heed the lessons or risk sparking employee revolts that they can’t contain.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.