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Dockworkers vow to shun autonomous vessels

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) – speaking for dockworkers at ports in the US and eastern Canada – said that its members will not load or unload autonomous container ships.

ILA president Harold Daggett said in a release, “Workers around the world are under assault from the threat of automation by greedy companies only interested in making money and eliminating workers who helped them build their success and companies. It’s got to stop, and my ILA will do what it needs to do to save our jobs and the jobs of maritime workers around the world.

“The ILA will not work a container ship without a crew aboard. Already one company developing these automated ships also plans for automated loading and unloading of cargo from these crew-less ships without workers. That’s not going to happen under my watch.”

Daggett urges all US maritime unions to join the ILA in refusing to work autonomous container vessels. He also hopes to win the support of the International Dockworkers Council in a campaign to stand against the elimination of on-board shipping jobs.

Last week in China it was announced that the AV Zhi Fei, a 300 teu autonomous cargo vessel, will enter service next month on a short-sea route between Dongjiakou and Qingdao while Scandinavian shipping awaits the imminent start of operations of the Yara Birkeland, to date the industry’s most high profile adventure into autonomous shipping.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.


  1. Yet again the USA is proving it is in the forefront of a technical revolution, in the Spirit of Ned Ludd.

  2. We built this country and worked our asses off for CENTURIES!!!!!!!! We didn’t do that to let a goddamn robot come in and take our jobs away! Companies even thinking about automation should be fined, or burned to the ground!!!!! We will forever fight for our jobs and livelihood!!!!

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