Machines replace Humans? Automation at Chinese car suppliers

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This study explores the drive towards increased automatisation at several automotive supplier firms in South China and the impact of these automatisation processes on workers. So far, total job numbers did not decrease much, partly due to the incremental implementation. Even though workers and labour unions are mostly outside of the decision making processes regarding automation, they are often supportive of automation and contribute to a cooperative transformation of workplaces. The main problems found by the study authors are that skills and compensation are becoming increasingly disconnected and that the simplification of work did reduce workers’ bargaining power. This leads to an increasingly unbalanced worker-employer relationship in which capital is strong, and labour is weak.

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