Technology is always advancing, and in many ways, that’s a good thing. It makes our lives easier and more efficient, but not everyone is on board. There are a lot of people who believe that automation is actually phasing out real human beings, and a group of Canadians are boycotting self-checkouts in supermarkets and other stores because they believe the machines will “kill jobs.”
- There’s a growing resistance. Tom Eburne, who lives in Chilliwack, B.C., told the CBC that he will continue to use regular checkout tills manned by actual people for as long as possible. “We will resist as long as we can,” he said. “I think any job loss is a step backwards.”
- More than 25% of Canadians refuse to use self-checkouts. According to a study out of Dalhousie University, out of 1,053 Canadians surveyed, more than 25% of them won’t use self-checkouts in stores even if they’re only buying one or two things and it would be quicker than waiting in line for a cashier.
- Only 50% of Canadians use self-checkouts with any regularity. In another survey, only a little more than half of the respondents said they ever use self-checkouts. While there is a small margin of error there, most people really want to ensure that people who work as cashiers get to keep their job.
- Cutting down on cashiers can have longstanding consequences. “They’re trying to basically herd everyone in, get everyone used to the self-checkouts to continuously cut down on staff,” said Ontario resident Dan Morris. “Machines don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay into the pension plan.”
- Unfortunately, refraining from self-checkout use isn’t likely to stop them from being installed everywhere. Technology stops for no one, and eventually these people may have to get on board. Retailers want to save labor costs and are keen to make their businesses more efficient, so it almost feels inevitable. “To kind of cling to an old model just because it involves workers is not something that companies and others are set up to do,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University in Toronto.
- There has to be a happy medium. I don’t know where that happy medium is, but there must be a way to keep people in jobs while also keeping up with the times, right?