The President of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), Harold Daggett, has warned shipping lines and developers of fully automated containerships that ILA members will not work ships without crews aboard, reports the official website.
Daggett was responding to recent media reports about companies and shipping lines developing and testing container vessels that will sail with no crew aboard.
Livelihoods of ILA members threatened
The Yara Birkeland, the world’s first autonomous and electric container vessel, is expected to begin its maiden voyage before the end of the year, while a project comprising 30 Japanese companies, including NYK, is planning to carry out a demonstration trial of a crewless, autonomous vessel between Tokyo Bay and Ise Bay in February 2022.
However, according to Daggett, such vessels threaten the livelihoods of ILA members and the wider maritime community.
‘Workers around the world are under assault from the threat of automation by greedy companies only interested in making money and eliminating workers who helped them build their success and companies,’ said ILA President Daggett. ‘It’s got to stop, and my ILA will do what it needs to do to save our jobs and the jobs of maritime workers around the world.’
6-year agreement to prevent automation
In 2018, Daggett negotiated a six-year agreement for ILA members with United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) that prevented any automation or automated equipment at ILA ports. In exchange, the ILA pledged to keep productivity levels above what automated equipment could produce.
‘The ILA will not work a container ship without a crew aboard,’ said the ILA leader. ‘Already one company developing these automated ships are also plans for automated loading and unloading of cargo from these crew-less ships without workers. That’s not going to happen under my watch.’
The current ILA contract expires in three years, and ILA President Daggett pledged to continue to keep his members protected from the threat of automation.
‘We will continue to negotiate for no automation, or automated equipment at ILA ports,’ said President Daggett. ‘And we are going to demand no semi-automated equipment be allowed. The ILA has learned that even allowing semi-automated equipment is the path for companies to slowly eliminate our jobs.’
Standing against elimination of on-board shipping jobs
Daggett is also hoping that all US maritime unions, as well as the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC), join the ILA in its campaign to stand its ground against the elimination of on-board shipping jobs.
‘Now more than ever, dockworkers from around the world, joined by all maritime workers must unite to fight this important battle against automation,’ said Daggett.
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