Rotterdam school of Management, Erasmus University compact logo

In considering the global trend of automation for container terminals, we use the Port of Rotterdam as a case study for practitioners to understand how unions, port authorities, and container companies negotiate the terms of automation. 

Insights from our study will inform policymakers, union leaders, and managers on how to improve employment relations in the context of major technological changes. 

In case of open vacancies you could emphasise them here (±30 characters)

Vacancies

How do labour organisations and employers negotiate the terms of automation? 

Organised labour – including unions and work councils – have a crucial role in the transition to automation in the Port of Rotterdam. 

We examine how these labour organisations negotiate the introduction of new technologies and automation in container terminals with the aim of mitigating potential job displacements for dockworkers.

This 10-month research initiative is led by PhD candidate José Luis Gallegos from the Department of Organisation and Personnel Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). It involves the participation of TU Delft researchers and a wide range of collaborating partners, and is funded by a convergence Kick-Starter Grant from Resilient Delta.

Project team

José Luis Gallegos

Project lead

Research goal

Our primary research question aims to help us find out how labour organisations and employers negotiate the terms of automation in the Port of Rotterdam. We will research this using information gathered from businesses, workers and employers involved with the Port.

The workforce at the Port is varied, encompassing a range of roles and skill levels. However, a significant concern is that many workers, particularly those in lower-skilled positions, are vulnerable to being displaced by automation. Currently, 27 per cent of global dock work is automated, a figure that is predicted to increase to 85 per cent by 2040. 

We want to examine how unions and work councils respond to the challenge of job displacement as result of container terminals’ automation at the Port of Rotterdam.

We have broken down our primary research question into three parts for more detailed research.

  1. How do unions and works councils assess the pros and cons of automation? How such assessment triggers their collective actions?
  2. What type of policies do different stakeholders advocate to address employees’ concerns related to technological change?   
  3. What are the conditions under which contentious and cooperative relations between employers (i.e., terminal operators) and labour organisations (i.e., unions and works councils) take place during an automation project?

Can we call on your help?

Our research is based on people’s real experiences, so we need the support of workers and employers connected to the Port of Rotterdam. If that’s you, then can we call on your help to gather relevant information? These are the ways in which you can help our research:

Our research is based on people’s real experiences, so we need the support of workers and employers connected to the Port of Rotterdam. If that’s you, then can we call on your help to gather relevant information? These are the ways in which you can help our research:

We would like to have detailed conversations with people at the port – whether you are an employee, a union leader, a terminal manager, or an expert in your field. 

Would you like to be interviewed, or can you help us to find people to interview? Fantastic! 

We'd like to visit and see things for ourselves, like how businesses are putting new technologies into practice, or what gets discussed at your works council meetings. If it’s possible, we’d like to sit in and observe negotiations about working conditions, or find out how your re-skilling programmes are run.

Can your firm show us these processes? Great! 

We're also looking for documents and records that can tell us more about employment relations at the port. The information we’re looking for could be meeting notes or minutes, memos, corporate records, emails discussing automation effects, employee feedback, or information about strikes, resistance to changes, or plans for automation.

Has your firm kept records like these? Might it be possible to analyse them for our research? 

Here’s how to contact us: gallegosquezada@rsm.nl

When necessary our legal team can craft a non-disclosure agreement for sensitive information. 

 

Privacy, anonymity and results

We follow strict data privacy guidelines. All information shared with us is kept highly confidential according to Dutch data protection laws. If needed, we can provide non-disclosure agreements to protect any sensitive data.

We use advanced anonymization methods to ensure all personal and organisational details are carefully hidden or modified. This means the identity of all participants is fully protected.

Anyone who contributes data to our study will have access to the outcomes of our research. We believe in maintaining a transparent and open research process in which contributors can see how their data is used.

Your support could make a big difference in our research, and we're grateful for any help you can provide. You can contact us at gallegosquezada@rsm.nl