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400,000 JOBS: MPs call for Government strategy on automation's impact on taxi driver jobs

In a recent Automated Vehicles Bill debate, Gavin Newlands, the Shadow SNP spokesperson for Transport, called for the UK Government to devise a comprehensive strategy addressing the societal and economic impacts of advancing automation within the transport sector.

Highlighting the transformative potential of new autonomous vehicle technologies, Newlands referenced the observations of Iain Stewart, Chair of the Select Committee, on the inevitability of job modifications or losses among the 2.7 million individuals employed in the logistics sector. This change, driven by automation, promises to redefine the landscape of employment, particularly affecting the 400,000 taxi and private hire drivers across the UK, as the advent of autonomous taxis looms on the horizon.

Newlands expressed concern over the future employment prospects of these drivers, questioning the nature of their roles in the next fifty years. This shift towards automation, while fostering new job opportunities, casts uncertainty on the stability of existing employment within the transport industry.

Echoing Newlands' sentiments, Matt Western MP emphasised the significant repercussions of technological advancements on the economy and job market. Western advocated for the Government to consider the establishment of an advisory council. This proposed body would facilitate dialogue with trade union representatives, ensuring their insights and concerns are integral to legislative considerations. Furthermore, Western proposed mandating trade union representation within the relevant legislative framework, aiming to safeguard the interests and futures of workers in the face of inevitable technological progression.

The call for a strategic government response to automation's impact on the transport sector highlights the need for proactive measures. As the industry stands on the cusp of a technological revolution, the establishment of an advisory council and inclusion of trade union perspectives could offer a balanced approach to navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by automation.

Gavin Newlands, Shadow SNP spokesperson for Transport, said: “We would also like a clear strategy from the Government on the societal and economic consequences of a move towards automation in the transport sector. As the Chair of Select Committee, Iain Stewart, said, these new technologies will create new and novel jobs, but there are 2.7 million jobs in the logistics sector in the UK, and not one of those positions will be unaffected; they will be either lost or changed as a result of this new technology. There are around 400,000 taxi and private hire drivers in the UK. If we end up with autonomous taxis, how many of those drivers will remain in jobs 50 years from now? What will their jobs be in 50 years’ time?"

Matt Western MP added: “As I said earlier, these developments will have a huge impact on the economy and jobs. Other Members have asked what they will mean for operators in the logistics sector and, for instance, taxi drivers. I urge the Government to adopt our proposal for the establishment of an advisory council to hear from trade union representatives and take on board their thoughts, and, indeed, I suggest that a requirement for trade union representation should be included in the Bill.“


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