During the recently concluded delegates convention, Senator David Massiah, the General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, expressed concerns about the impact of digital banking on the elderly.
He highlighted that the links being established between the African Union, China, and Russia and the bonding between Africa and the Caribbean, particularly the formation of the digital bank, could be a game-changer.
However, he also mentioned that this new trend in banking has already affected our society in various ways and continues to do so.
“One can appreciate the convenience of banking functions being available however, much of this new digital banking is a struggle for our seniors and their cash deposits. The geopolitical atmosphere which we are currently experiencing is fraught with threats around which we have to navigate.
“One of the major threats is the impact on the American dollar, which is so important to our economies as any significant increases in the cost of doing business would prove very harmful to our cost of living in Antigua and our workers’ stability,” he said
Senator Massiah has expressed concern about the impact of the rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on workers. According to Massiah, AI is expected to grow annually by 37.3% from 2023 to 2030, which could have serious ramifications for workers.
With the development of robust computer systems, larger storage capacities, and faster data processing speeds, machines can now automate tasks that humans previously did. As a result, workers are being displaced by these machines, Senator Massiah said
“This automation saves time and money and increases efficiency and accuracy…Workers beware! However, the role of a well-trained communications officer on the Union’s team becomes of extreme significance. We need to ensure that our governments introduce AI into our society to effect positive changes including improved healthcare and increased access to education which would empower us to think creatively and push the boundaries of human knowledge and achievement. We ALL have to get on board and recognize that the role of AI is to replace humans in the future,” he added
Global warming was another issue highlighted by Senator Massiah, who told those gathered that the entire world is now being exposed to the threat of Global warming.
“The dangerous hurricanes, heatwaves, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic activities are all taking place and wreaking havoc worldwide. Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature,” he said
According to him, this poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.
Senator Massiah said that Water is becoming scarcer in more regions, and deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water regularly.
“Many of the consequences of Climate change will increase hardship for us humans and our working class. It will disrupt the natural, economic, and social systems we depend on. This disruption will affect food supplies, financial markets, damage infrastructure and human health and global development,” he added.
Senator Massiah also singled out inflation as another issue that would affect the workforce
“When inflation is on the rise, purchasing goods and services is more expensive, and life as a whole gets more expensive. Inflation has far-reaching impacts across the economy to include: loss of purchasing power, higher interest rates, higher prices for everything, and usually economic growth slows,” he said
Adding, “Typically, those with low incomes or fixed incomes feel the impact of inflation the most. We all have felt the impact of inflation for ourselves as our monthly food bill and utility bills have all increased. The reality of this is that rising costs don’t necessarily equate to rising wages, which means our homes face challenging times when inflation is on the rise”
Furthermore, he said inflation has reared its ugly head when supply and demand are out of balance.
“Covid-19 caused shortages in some high-demand products and the advent of floods and other natural disasters continue to wreak havoc limiting some basic household supplies,” he explained
He also explained that inflation usually signals a higher interest rate for homeowners on a fixed budget and this will cause a reduction in spending as consumers will think twice before buying some items. Many are forced to make difficult choices as inflation rises.
“In some cases, inflation can cause employment crisis as the corporate employer will see labour as too costly and will invest more on technology to replace workers,” according to Massiah.
He said have everyone must continue to focus on the environment especially since there is now a dire need for “us to negotiate tripartite pacts with State and the employers to further the use of wind, wave, solar and other energy sources. These energy sources provide air quality, public health, and greenhouse gas emission benefits by reducing reliance on combustion-based electricity generation”