Automation: A Worker's Perspective

MUA researcher Dr Penny McCall Howard will be presenting a paper to the conference - Container Terminal Automation: A workers’ view’ - which is being hosted by The University of Sydney Business School and Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies.

The MUA’s presentation is based on interviews with elected members of workplace committees in Brisbane and Sydney and elected officials and will serve as a counterbalance to the majority of presentations that will come from employers and researchers with a pro-automation point of view.

Dr Howard said the paper explores workers’ experience of the highly politicised introduction of automation into Australian container terminals.


Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said the conference comes at a time when employers were seeking to introduce automation as a method to slash their workforce and bust unions.

The voice of those who have worked the waterfront for decades has been ignored when it comes to automation, Smith said.

“The MUA is progressive, and workers know automation is coming but there is a right way to introduce and implement new technologies and there’s a wrong way and what I have seen so far is companies like DP World, like Patrick doing it the wrong way,” he said.

“In places where automation has already taken place productivity and efficiency gains haven’t been made, the only result I have seen is an addition of numbers to the large and ever-expanding unemployment figures.

“This conference gives us an opportunity for the union and the people who know the waterfront to present their view on automation and to show the academic world people are integral to the automation debate.”