Minimum wage jobs are subject to technological substitution

For years, the Super Kebab takeaway in north London has – like all kebab shops employed a man with a big knife to slice doner meat off of a rotating skewer. Despite its award-winning pedigree – it was named the best takeaway in London earlier this year – manual kebab slicing has been given the elbow, supplanted by a futuristic robot arm. The Atalay doner robot, which, guided by sensors, glides up and down the tower of meat, slicing off perfect cuts of lamb to be stuffed into a pitta bread (salad remains optional).

And the higher the minimum wage the faster it will happen…..

13 thoughts on “Minimum wage jobs are subject to technological substitution”

  1. Expensive Labour=mechanisation is a lesson that Britain’s Labour Unions have steadfastly refused to learn for the last 60 years. The TUC’s emblem should be a golden goose being strangled to death.

  2. I saw them interviewed on the box last week. ALL staff (not just the owner) were in favour of it, as slicing is apparently really hard work. Especially on a Saturday night.

    Savings on labour costs are a marginal side benefit, although that might be because its the first and the initial cost is very high.

  3. @justin, I imagine it’s difficult to automate enough fiddly little jobs to make one whole employee redundant. I suspect it’s mostly aiming to increase sales, at least for now.

    It’s crazy, knocking the legs out from under the local jobs while the Internet leads to more and more offshoring already. Have they not noticed how much China and India have grown from making all our stuff?

  4. > I imagine it’s difficult to automate enough fiddly little jobs to make one whole employee redundant.

    Never seen a car factory?

  5. Even in that supposed bastion of cheap labour, China, the same is happening.

    15 years ago, the production line making one of my products had 8 workers to put each of the 8 screws into the bottom of the case. Labour was cheap and 8 workers doing 1 screw each made zero errors whereas 1 worker doing 8 screws would often forget one or more, affecting the product quality.

    That whole production line had 100 workers. Today there is 1. The whole line is automated with a supervisor. Same factory. Same owners. Improved production rate, yield and zero returns. Labour cost has gone from insignificant to the biggest cost.

    Skilled design and production engineers being added to the factory at 10% per year. Production line staff being cut by 20% per year.

  6. “And the higher the minimum wage the faster it will happen…..”

    That’s why The Left favours minimum wages. There’s the short term advantage of sucking up to the proletariat, and the long term advantage of adding to the lumpenproletariat. Win win.

  7. They sackings don’t happen the day after minimum wage goes up. It takes time to filter thro. And as someone (I forget the blog) pointed out, the gap gives crafty econometric cunts a chance to do their “studies” showing minimum wage has no effect on jobs.

  8. I once visited a place where the doner manufacturing community manufacture doners. The doner manufacturing facilities were a bloke in rubber boots shoveling a pile of meat on the floor.
    I don’t give a sweet f**k how they’re carving ’em. You wouldn’t catch me eating a doner, no matter how much I’ve had to drink. And I note the doner manufacturing community stick to the kebabs, as well. Much the same as the Chinese community don’t consume the filth the Brits call “Chinese”.

  9. Justin is right. This isn’t really about the minimum wage. The machine was imported from that notoriously high wage country, Turkey.

    If Turkish kebab places think it’s worth it, I doubt the level of UK minimum wage makes much difference.

  10. Macdonald’s in France.

    And Martin Wolf et all will agonise over labour productivity in France apparently rising faster than here.

  11. @ Mr Ecks
    That is because Blair passed a law forbidding anyone to sack a worker because their added value per hour was a fraction of the minimum wage. So the whole firm went bust instead – 90% of the workers in the British textile industyry lost their jobs between 1997 and 2010.

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