It's time to listen to Ned Ludd - by Will North, editor of Dockside Lift and Move magazine
Cranes in automated ports 8- Cranes in automated ports 8
Photo: maasvlakte 2 - Photo credit: <joc.com>.
It's time to listen to Ned Ludd
Written by Will North, editor. <email@example.com>
Published in the editorial of Dockside Lift and Move magazine, edition Q3 2018.
Translated by Gustavo Zamora * for cranes and transportation, Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Around the end of the 18th century, a young weaver in Nottingham, Ned Ludd, stood in line with his employer and smashed the man's frame. Or maybe he did not: it is likely that he never existed, but this is the story that a group of radical labor activists, the Luddites, told a few years later, as they actually destroyed the machinery of their employers. There is an image of the Luddites who paint them as simpletons, amazed and without understanding the new technology in a similar way to the cargo cultists of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, they had a clear complaint, that many people in the modern world - and in modern ports - would recognize. During the previous years, and in the Victorian era, the English peasants were forced to leave the land by the Closing Acts, which transferred the common lands to private hands. Those who could, acquired skills such as weaving, from which they could earn a living as artisans who worked in their own homes, charging for the manufactured piece. The development of the industrial fabric threatened these artisans, since the industry was lacking in people with those skills, and the only source of income for the workers became the black satanic mills of Blake's nightmares. The Luddites campaign, however, was not against technology; it was a campaign against the lack of other employment. The Luddites lost their five-year battle against industrialization, with many of them being executed or transported thousands of kilometers from their home.
But they represented a political current that became the trade union movement and gave weight to the demands for universal suffrage. The Luddites have been in my mind during the edition of this edition, since I worked on an article on automation, which you can read on page 19. While we were editing these articles, we received an approach from one of the companies with which our writer had talked, asking us to make sure they do not seem to be trying to destroy the jobs of the dockworkers. As we pretend to be a friend of the industry, even though we are a frank and independent friend, we have made sure that the quotes we use reflect what they wanted to say. But I think the industry should defend itself a bit on this issue. Yes, for every task that was done by a human being and is now done by a machine, a job has been lost. But that should not be a bad thing: it could be the first stage in a journey that leads to a new, more interesting, safer and less physically demanding job. That potential advantage can not be delivered to us by employers or by the developers of automatic equipment, alone. This will require the participation of the whole society in general and of the governments. The need for government to act should be clear to anyone who has loosely paid attention to the news in recent years: Unsafe employment throughout the Western world has led to a wave of victories for populist opportunists and Caesars wannabes. There is already an installed model that will respond to some of the first challenges posed by automation. In the Nordic model, government, employers and workers aspire to close communication and collaboration; workers are protected against the worst effects of automation and were helped to develop their skills through educational and social welfare systems that offer ongoing training and sufficient income from the benefits to ensure that those who lose their jobs are not excluded from social interaction or make them feel that the state is punishing them for their misfortune or bad luck. The advantage of this model is that it allows employers flexibility and the possibility of developing new and more efficient technologies, without imposing all external costs on workers.