Labour rights, artificial intelligence and automation in the context of the UK, Brexit, and Covid-19 with a comparative study of Singapore

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Higgs, Lillian
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The impact of Artificial Intelligence and automation presents an unprecedented challenge to workers’ rights. The potential automation crisis in UK can lead to further problems in social justice and income inequality beyond job retention. The UK sits in a unique human rights position due to its ongoing process of legal sovereignty post-Brexit and the economic challenges presented by Covid-19. The question posed here is can British sovereignty be used to strengthen labour rights rather than threaten judicial independence in the UK? And does its altruistic response to Covid-19 bode well for the future of labour policy in the UK? By addressing the effect of Artificial intelligence as a direct human rights issue there is the opportunity to depoliticise solutions to labour displacement, such as increases in trade union power, strengthened labour policy and government funded lifelong learning, creating a New Social Contract. Automation naturally leads to the devolution of the traditional working environment and a rise in the gig economy which leads to deregulation and de-unionisation, a reinvention of the traditional trade union structure is necessary to accommodate the new forms of unstable work. Trade unions play a key role in securing Britain’s future and in the new classification of subordinate workers. Monopolisation of the markets is the likely occurrence when BigTech replaces human labour, causing Small and Mid-size enterprises (SME) to fail. This can lead to unfair pricing and low wages with little protection for skilled and non-skilled workers. Making automation and a universal progressive tax structure, a key human rights issue is therefore pertinent so that the UK can correctly address these issues before the exploitation of its citizens. Comparing the UK’s approach to automation to Singapore, the country predicted to have the lowest rate of job at high-risk of computerisation shows that a heightened focus on lifelong learning is key to positively fulfilling the human right to work. The UK must positively fulfil their human rights obligations by improving the futures of the labour force.
Second semester University: Ca' Foscari University of Venice
labour law, United Kingdom, workers, trade unions, technological innovations, labour market, Singapore, comparative politics, human rights, education