Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has branded a report on the automation of jobs and the minimum wage as propaganda for employers who want an excuse to cut wages in real terms. 

The report released today (Thursday 4 January) from the Institute for Fiscal Studies claims that any further increases in the UK’s national living wage should be subject to “extremely careful monitoring” as it could lead to redundancies by encouraging employers to automate jobs.

But Unite has hit back, warning that this amounts to yet another attack on ordinary workers already facing the weakest pay growth since the Napoleonic wars. In contrast, Unite is developing a 21st century workplace manifesto on automation demanding that ordinary working people benefit from new technology.

Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: "This report is just propaganda for employers who want an excuse to suppress wages. I don't suppose that economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies are asking for pay cuts to protect themselves from robots. They know that ‘Industry 4.0’ is going to generate enormous amounts of wealth and we need automation to deliver for society not just bigger profits. Why not demand a shorter working week and a decent retirement?

“The IFS seems to think that it should be just like the 1980s. Then we lost jobs and wages to technology while boardrooms profited. But this time workers can and should get their share. Of course, the best way to defend your job and get the most out of automation is also the best way to keep your pay above the minimum wage - get organised in a union.”


For more information contact Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.