CWU raises concerns over skills and job losses to AI 

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) of the Trade Union Congress has called to attention the threat of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to the human job market. 

Madam Vida Quansah, National Chairman of the Union, said job losses from digital adoption by corporations and the present economic situation cast gloom over the future of human resource. 

She urged the Government and worker unions to seek measures to secure livelihoods for many. 

She made the call at the 8th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Union which was held in Ho on the theme: “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Future of Work: The Role of the Union.” 

“AI is no longer a science fiction,” she said, noting the influence on the workforce. 

“While AI offers immense potentials for increasing productivity and innovation, it also raises serious concerns for job displacements, skills gaps and potential inequalities. 

“It is my desire that the deliberation of this conference would end in a concrete implementable strategy for the upcoming quadrennial in positioning the union to capitalise on the benefit of existing technologies and stay ahead of the curve.” 

The National Chairman spoke also of the “devastating” effect of the present current economic situation on workers “particularly in the communication and postal sector,” and “urge that good measures are taken by the government to Mitigate the effect on the working class in the country.” 

Ms. Quansah appealed to all Ghanaians to promote peace, unity and harmony before, during and after the coming elections.  

Mr. Joseph Yao Hotor, General Secretary of the Union, spoke of “significant challenges” it faced in recent times with technology’s overwhelming advancement. 

“The loss of projects and resulting redundancies, these have led to decline in our membership and difficulty in organising, particularly with remote work arrangements. American Towers Corporation, Ghana, Ericson AB, Ghana, and Prime and Infrastructure Engineering have all been affected. 

“The union took note when metro TV laid off about 200 employees as part of restructuring efforts during the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting. So it was with TV Africa. During the period, the Union had seen significant number of its members become redundant – A trend largely driven by the rapid evolution of technology.

“While the union fully supports technological progress, it strongly objects to the introduction of technologies that would result in job loss and displacement of workers,” he stated. 

The General Secretary said the theme for the conference raised the critical need for labour unions to be at the forefront of the emerging technologies revolution, noting how the International Labour Organisation cautioned against the impact of generative AI with an estimated 75 million jobs marked for automation. 

He commended the Trade Union Congress for “tireless efforts” in reviewing the nation’s Labour Law, which he said would position workers to win their rights through the technological invasion. 

Mr Hotor added that the Law’s review should provide safeguard for employment by regulating technology that come as risks to human jobs. 

He said the Union would partner the Communications Ministry “investigate the impact of emerging technologies and develop innovative solutions to protect and create new job opportunities, ensuring a secure and prosperous future for workers. 

“It is very crucial for Unions, industries and governments to adopt and prepare for these changes by investing in education, retraining and upscaling programmes. These would enable workers to transition into new roles and take advantage of the opportunities presented by AI and automation. These strategies are necessary for a just technological transition,” he said. 

Dr. Yaw Baah, the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress, said worker unions should not be cowed by AI advance.  

“Technology is not an enemy. We just have to harness it and we have to use it. The role of the union is to make sure that in spite of the technological changes the union still stands,” he said. 

The Secretary General mentioned the CWU was recognised as one of the most peaceful unions of the TUC, and should maintain the outlook in building further the Union. 

He reiterated the TUC’s commitment to getting the review of the Labour Law to fruition and expressed hope in the President’s resolve to get it in force. 

Among dignitaries at the Conference were heads of various sister unions in the country. 

Source: GNA 

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