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ITF calls on Maersk to address union and community concerns on proposed automation at Port of Los Angeles

02 Apr 2019
Press Release
Today the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) invited Maersk to work constructively with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in addressing the financial and social impacts of the proposed automation at the Port of Los Angeles.

“Today the ITF delegation at the Maersk Annual General Meeting delivered an invitation to the company to create a constructive dialogue to ensure that the terminal at Pier 400 remains productive, competitive and profitable for the company as well the workforce and communities that it sustains,” said ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith.

A delegation of representatives from the ITF and affiliated unions today addressed the AP Møller-Mærsk AGM in Copenhagen. The ITF delegation acknowledged the constructive and continuing dialogue between Maersk and transport unions, but raised current challenges including automation plans at the Port of Los Angeles.

“Positive industrial relations do exist in many Maersk workplaces around the world. It is now vital that this applies to all regions and workplaces. ITF’s Maersk Network has identified current challenges across Maersk’s global operations, and today we have informed the company’s board and shareholders of a number of issues that need to be addressed,” said ITF maritime coordinator, Jacqueline Smith.

Dane Jones from the ILWU addressed the AGM on the proposed automation of cargo-handling at APM Terminal’s Pier 400 facility at the Port of Los Angeles.

“Automation is expensive. Whether fully or semi-automated, it requires hundreds of millions, if not billions, to construct or retrofit full-sized modern container facility … A terminal operator must also pay for facility upgrades, software solutions, product support and maintenance. A marine terminal earns revenue by moving cargo, and automated container ports do not move cargo as quickly or profitably as those worked by people,” said Jones.

Maersk shareholders and members of the board were pointed to a recent study by McKinsey & Company that found that automated ports are “generally less productive than their conventional counterparts” and that “while operating expenses decline, so does productivity, and the returns on invested capital are currently lower than the industry norm”.

ITF maritime coordinator, Jacqueline Smith, reiterated the full support of the global union federation with ILWU to retain the skilled workforce in the Port of Los Angeles. 

“As Maersk shareholders heard today, automation has both financial impacts on productivity and profitability as well as social and community impacts on workers and their communities, and under the company’s own corporate social responsibility policies Maersk has a responsibility to ‘reduce negative and enhance positive impacts on people, society and environment’,” said Smith. 

“Today we urge all Maersk shareholders to join us in calling on the company to meet with the ITF, the ILWU and address the grave concerns surrounding automation plans at the Port of Los Angeles.”

For more information
Luke Menzies, ITF maritime media manager | menzies_luke@itf.org.uk

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