Automation is only one of the many impacts that digital technology is having on the transport and logistics industry, but it is the best known and most feared and has become a shorthand for the whole process of digitalisation. Among our sections dockers have been particularly heavily exposed to the replacement of labour through automation.
At ITF we have been analysing the issues arising from the digitalisation of the global economy so as to enable our affiliates across our sectors and regions to successfully confront the challenges posed by this development. We have also begun developing policies designed to influence the discussion around digitalisation in international institutions like the OECD, the ILO and within the global trade union movement.
Understanding technological development demands that we understand the many processes that shape it, and that push it forward. It is a highly complex issue that quickly takes us into economics and then politics, and onwards. As yet the world lacks a well-developed science of technological development, or a means of predicting its impacts, and this means that all predictions should be treated with some scepticism. Estimating potential impacts on workers and designing the right policies to protect them therefore requires us to critically assess information produced by others, as well produce our own data by talking to our affiliates around the world, while using the past as a guide.
On these pages you will find an automation toolkit highlighting some successful cases of unions negotiating the introduction of new technology. You will also find more detailed analysis of some of the issues under the headings to the left.