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Automation Project At Ports Of Auckland Requires Intervention

The off button on automation at Ports of Auckland has been pressed until further notice, and there needs to be answers, says the Maritime Union.

On the early morning of 17 June, a software fault resulted in a container which was being carried by an automated straddle, hitting a stacked container.

There were no injuries but operations have been stopped in the automated section of the port until the issue is identified and resolved. It is not known how long this will take.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says port management made the right decision to take the automated systems offline for safety reasons.

He says a real option now was the Ports abandon or scale back an over-ambitious automation project that was now years overdue, with no end in sight.

"The question is how much more cost and disruption is going to be accepted."

Oversight from the Board had failed and there needed to be an independent investigation into the project from Auckland City to determine how the situation got to this point.

Mr Harrison says it is important the Ports of Auckland moves forward under new management and the Union wanted a productive relationship.

This had to be based on an approach of mutual respect and acceptance of the Union’s role as the representative of the workforce.

He says the Maritime Union was prepared to help the Ports of Auckland source skilled labour to assist.

The collapse in productivity at the Ports of Auckland was a major factor in disrupting the national supply chain.

Mr Harrison says there needs to be a national ports strategy that ensures rational decisions and an efficient supply chain, not empire building at the local level.

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