Automation through negotiation, say unions

"Employers who try to use automation as a means to try and destroy unions, impose excessive job cuts and remove conditions of work should know that we will take action against them," Paddy Crumlin, ITF

About 160 representatives of 11 maritime unions from ten countries were this week told that future automation in the global port scene would come through negotiation and not imposition.

Speaking at a Sydney strategy conference on April 29-30, International Transport Workers’ Federation president and Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said port workers were united in this position.

“We are building the widest possible alliance to ensure workers’ interests are represented and employers would be well advised to understand that a global network is solidifying and strengthening its resolve to respond decisively to unilaterally imposed automation,” he stated.

“Dockers are skilled, professional workers with valuable insight and experience to share, who see automation as an opportunity for new skills and training. Unions are committed to dialogue with employers which is open and fair.

“However, the others, the employers who try to use automation as a means to try and destroy unions, impose excessive job cuts and remove conditions of work should know that we will take action against them.”

Mr Crumlin specifically accused Patrick Ports - the Asciano’s ports business - of having acted in bad faith amidst claims it is planning to automate Sydney’s Port Botany to attack the union as opposed to achieve efficiencies. The MUA and Asciano are currently embroiled in legal action.

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