Saint Petersburg seminar tackles automation in Europe’s Inland Waterways

5 Sep 2018

Ever since 2008, the ETF Inland Waterways Section organises an annual seminars to deepen knowledge, learn from the experiences of rank and file members, and build capacity to cope with both national and European problems.  These seminars are the perfect networking opportunities to strengthen the bond between ETF affiliates.

On Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 September 2018 over 45 participants from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Bulgaria met in Saint Petersbourg, Russia, to discuss “automation in European Inland Waterways” and its impact on employment and professional qualifications.

Experts from Antwerp University, the Russian University of Transport, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Directorate for Maritime Affairs of the Netherlands and the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine brought the external expertise and perspective needed for ETF affiliates to define their future plans.

ETF Inland Waterways Section President Joris Kerkhofs says: “Automation is unstoppable. But it also has to be looked at from a workers’ perspective and properly accompanied by social dialogue. Let’s create the future together!”

Nick Bramley, ITF Inland Waterways Section President adds: “Digitalisation and automation pose a challenge to workers in all transport modes and to society in general.  An early recognition and definition of the challenges to inland waterways transport are vital to elaborating our collective response.”

Delegations consisting of both rank and file members – active crewmembers – and trade union officials voiced their concerns about the future of their profession and the dangers of ignoring the value of the human factor, as well as the need for establishing international standards. The results of the seminar will be evaluated in the section and will contribute to the adoption of a future policy on automation in the sector.