Automating Ports: Mitigating Union Friction



Olaf Merk, Administrator: Ports and Shipping, ITF/OECD, Paris, France


More and more ports and terminals are thinking of implementing automated practices. This certainly promises to be one of the defining issues for ports in the coming decades. Although automation could certainly make sense for some ports, this could come at a cost: social costs. Although trade unions do not seem to be categorically against port automation, they can be critical and often have the power to seriously disturb port operations and undermine port attractiveness via strikes.

So ports that would like to introduce automation are better off doing this without annoying trade unions. Below are five lessons extracted from practices from ports around the world that can aid when dealing with automation and powerful unions.

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