The report titled “Technology and Power: Understanding Issues of Insecure Work and Technological Change in Australian Workplaces” was submitted to the NSW Inquiry on technological change and the future of work.
The report brings together worker case studies across a range of diverse industries to highlight themes including surveillance, automation, platform-based management, data collection, and the gig economy.
In particular, the extensive use of punitive surveillance is identified as a widespread and complex issue for UWU members. Surveillance is shown to take many forms ranging from medical and biometric surveillance, to invasive use of security cameras and new trends emerging amid COVID-19 working from home arrangements.
The report finds that in the context of insecure work, these technological trends have the capacity to further erode the employment relationship and the quality of jobs on offer. In this context, technological change is closely linked to work intensification and unsafe work practices.
It is found that a significant gap currently exists between the capabilities of new technologies—particularly surveillance—and the legal, industrial and social protections necessary to mitigate the risk of harm to workers.
The report proposes solutions to identified problems, including industry level worker councils empowered to co-determine how surveillance, data collection and labour-saving technologies are designed and used in their workplaces.
The full report is available here: uwu.org.au/submissions