Automation represents a sensitive issue in the debate between social actors of the port-maritime industry. Automation produced a contraction of the number of dockworkers since the 1960s. However, the idea that technological innovation will produce the disappearance of work is not sustained by empirical evidence. For this reason, trade unions have been particularly watchful. Despite the discourses about robotization carried out by supply chain operators, the paradigm of the post-COVID logistics chain is still based upon the human labor cost. During the pandemic there has been a transformation in working conditions not in terms of replacing people with robots, but rather of the robotization of workers to obtain the maximum productive exploitation at the minimum wage allowed. The purpose of this article is to provide an analysis of labor relations and workers organizing in light of the automation processes in the European port of Antwerp. The article focuses on how working conditions and jobs are potentially impacted by automation in ports, and on how workers disruptive strategies are resisting to these dynamics. The following questions have been answered: How do trade unions and dockworkers respond to automation? What are the strategies implemented in the bargaining processes?

Automation Processes in the Port Industry and Union Strategies: The Case of Antwerp / A. Bottalico. - 16:1(2022), pp. 31-47. [10.1515/ngs-2022-0003]

Automation Processes in the Port Industry and Union Strategies: The Case of Antwerp

A. Bottalico
Primo
2022

Abstract

Automation represents a sensitive issue in the debate between social actors of the port-maritime industry. Automation produced a contraction of the number of dockworkers since the 1960s. However, the idea that technological innovation will produce the disappearance of work is not sustained by empirical evidence. For this reason, trade unions have been particularly watchful. Despite the discourses about robotization carried out by supply chain operators, the paradigm of the post-COVID logistics chain is still based upon the human labor cost. During the pandemic there has been a transformation in working conditions not in terms of replacing people with robots, but rather of the robotization of workers to obtain the maximum productive exploitation at the minimum wage allowed. The purpose of this article is to provide an analysis of labor relations and workers organizing in light of the automation processes in the European port of Antwerp. The article focuses on how working conditions and jobs are potentially impacted by automation in ports, and on how workers disruptive strategies are resisting to these dynamics. The following questions have been answered: How do trade unions and dockworkers respond to automation? What are the strategies implemented in the bargaining processes?
automation; global supply chain; labor relations; maritime-logistics chain; port labor systems; unions
Settore SPS/09 - Sociologia dei Processi economici e del Lavoro
2022
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/952961
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