Workers vindicated as Ports of Auckland abandons automation

The Maritime Union says its longstanding opposition to automation at the Ports of Auckland has been vindicated after the project was canned.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the decision today by Ports of Auckland to cancel its automation project was the right call.

The project suffered ongoing delays, technical issues and cost over-runs, and had contributed to the serious congestion issues at the Ports in the last two years.

Mr Harrison says the new Board and new CEO have shown a new positive attitude to engaging with the Union, which has led to an improving culture at Ports of Auckland.

“Our focus now is on ensuring a productive, skilled, safe union workforce is allowed to get on with their job.”

Mr Harrison says the Maritime Union wants to see worker representation on the Board to ensure the future success of the Ports.

“Worker representation at board level would provide the real world expertise of workers in many areas such as health and safety, and is standard practice in many successful European economies.”

Mr Harrison says the automation project is another negative outcome from the reign of former CEO Tony Gibson, who departed suddenly last year.

The port company and Mr Gibson are facing health and safety charges laid by Maritime New Zealand following the 2020 death of port worker Pala’amo Kalati.

Mr Harrison says a full report into how poor decisions were made by previous management was now required.

He says the automation project had been unusual and high risk for a port of Auckland’s size, and should never have been approved at the governance level.

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