|Issue No 67||18 August 2000|
Roboboss Corrigan Straddles Lemon
Chris Corrigan should invite journalists and others out to Port Botany, Sydney, to witness his robotic straddle in action, before he can expect anyone to take his latest claims seriously say the MUA.
This is the response of MUA national secretary John Coombs to ongoing reports that Patrick Stevedores boss Chris Corrigan is on the brink of replacing wharfies with robots at his Port Botany terminal.
"We have not been involved in the development of this new technology," said Mr Coombs. "But we have good reason to suspect the validity of Mr Corrigan's latest claims. The question is why hasn't anyone been invited out there to see a demonstration of the new technology? And why do our people on the job there every day say the automated straddle is just left rusting most of the time?"
Reports on the ground from the Patrick workforce (especially from technicians employed there) are that the robotic straddle is far from working. When they do give it an occasional test run it can only go in a straight line back and forward. No-one has ever seen it turn a corner. Also members report that while the windows have been blacked in, when the sun is behind it you can see a silhouette that looks suspiciously like a person at the wheel.
"I think Mr Corrigan may well be a bit nervous about a third stevedoring company about to set up operations in Melbourne," said Mr Coombs. "This could be more about boosting the Patrick share price and profile in the face of some stiff competition. It is also about justifying government funding in the company. But it does say a lot about Mr Corrigan and his absolute inability to deal with workers as human beings."
Mr Coombs said that the union also viewed the publicity as a bit of a scare tactic, a bargaining chip for the coming enterprise negotiations.
"Management are going to say, you have to accept more labour cutbacks or we'll replace you with robots," he said. "And the government is funding this gambit to the tune of millions."
Automated ports do exist, the most renowned being in Rotterdam, Holland. But this hub port, which services the whole of Europe, was a greenfields site designed from scratch so that the straddles follow an infra red track system embedded in the ground on set paths. They do not weave around each other like the cramped, small scale, straddle operation at Port Botany.
Interview: Slyly Selling the Silver
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Politics: Dysfunctional Society
Noel Pearson looks at the plight of Aboriginal people through a prism of class and comes up with a challenging perspective on Aboriginal welfare, law and order and the state of our society.
History: Money Power
Should the People or the Banks Rule? Reserve Bank Governor McFarlane thinks he knows the answer. Eddie Ward was pretty strongly of the opposite view when the ALP introduced the Commonwealth Banking Legislation in 1945.
International: Soccer Pro Tackles Nike
Olympic sponsor Nike is under pressure over its human rights record in the run up to the Sydney Games.
Frank Stillwell looks at the contradictory nature of the globalising economy and fears it is turning into a race to the bottom.
Satire: IVF Debate: Federal Government Tells Lesbians: "Get Fucked"
MELBOURNE, Monday: The Federal Court decision to allow single women and lesbians to use infertility treatment in Victoria has been attacked by the Federal Government, the Catholic Church and by pro-family community groups.
Review: Confessions Of A Union Buster
It's not a new tome but the threat for Australian Unions remains the same if not greater as when this book appeared five years ago.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005