Food for thought while in line


By Dave Lafontant, PSAY Provincial convenor

Self checkoutA lot of people these days are ethical consumers for reasons including animal treatment and the carbon foot print, which are great things and can help shape industries for positive change. But do we mentally checkout about being an ethical consumer when it comes to going to the checkout?

A lot of supermarkets have self-checkouts, it is sold as a quick and easy way to check out, but have you ever thought where that friendly face of the checkout operator has gone? 

With globalisation and modernisation employees are being replaced by machines where possible to cut costs for employers. So where does this leave the supermarket employee? What is the chance of the employee who has been replaced by the self-checkout getting a job in electronics building those same machines? Not that great, considering that only a few countries produce these self-checkout machines to be sold globally and that a lot of people whose jobs are being replaced are young people working their first job or working part time whilst studying.  For young people these first jobs are important as they are a source of financial independence or a way to supplement the weekly budget while on the meagre student allowance, or to help support a new family. 

So the next time you go shopping and are taking an ethical approach consider that waiting in line, no matter how tedious may be keeping someone in work who needs that job. If you want to take it a step further you can write to management about how you prefer to interact with a person rather than a machine – this may encourage them rethink their future store layouts. Also ask them if they have put into practice training and up-skilling for employees so those whose jobs are at risk have an opportunity for career development.

This is in line with PSAs Transforming Our Workplaces strategy and is something which is very relevant to youth as it deals with work becoming insecure work due to modernization, privatisation, or restructuring which is happening more often in the greater public service in part due trying to trying to stretch already shrinking budgets.