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Automation implies big job losses at BC marine terminals

2019-08-28

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

 

Vancouver, BC - Automation will kill thousands of good jobs at marine terminal operations in British Columbia, draining hundreds of millions of dollars from the provincial economy annually, according to a new economic forecast.

"Like many other sectors, automation is sweeping the marine industry world-wide with steep declines in employment of up to 90%. It's only a matter of time before such automation happens here too," said Rob Ashton, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union - Canada, which commissioned the study.

The study found that automation is likely to eliminate more than 9200 marine terminal jobs across BC taking into account new employment automation may create.  The provincial economy stands to take a material hit from income lost in excess of $600 million annually, with tax revenues declining more than $100 million a year.

"Disruption on this scale will be felt by the provincial economy and will have an acute effect in some local communities, particularly those that rely on this industry for good jobs and the economic benefits they bring locally,' said John O'Grady, founding partner of PRISM Economics and Analysis which conducted the forecast.
The study forecasts that 11% of middle-income employment ($70,000+ per year) and 23% of high-income employment ($100,000+ per year) in the community of Delta alone risk being eliminated due to future automation in the marine terminal industry.

In Prince Rupert, one quarter of middle-income and fully two-thirds of high-income employment is at risk of elimination due to future automation, the study affirmed.
"The companies that automate these jobs out of existence stand to benefit.  It is equally clear that workers, communities and governments would be left to pick up the pieces after the damage is done," said Rob Ashton.

 

To address job loss from automation in the marine terminal and other sectors of the economy, the ILWU Canada is calling on all federal party leaders to commit to modernize Canada's approach to labour market adjustment.

"In spite of widespread disruption to many industries in our country, there has not been a single major change in workforce adjustment programs in Canada for 30 years, apart from actual cuts to the Employment Insurance program to further disqualify workers," Mr. Ashton said.

"The next federal government needs to quickly establish retraining, job search and other programs to mitigate the economic harm that is done to workers and communities hit by employment loss of this scale," Mr. Ashton said.

The union is also calling on all governments to stop rewarding companies with tax breaks and subsidies when they automate good middle-class jobs out of existence to their exclusive benefit. Photo: Prince Rupert Port Authority

 



 
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