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02 June 2014
A management expert who helped establish better labour relations in ports across the world has won this year’s Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Award for International Collaboration.
Professor Peter Turnbull developed a model based on social dialogue to help steer port employers, trade unions and governments through structural change in ports. This model was recently used to develop Guidelines for port worker training in the world’s ports, leading to improved health, safety and efficiency. Professor Turnbull and Frank Leys (International Labour Organisation) accepted the award from David Baynes, Director of IP Group Plc.
The Training Guidelines developed by Professor Turnbull, of Cardiff Business School, have been endorsed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and by the European Commission as a framework to promote mutual recognition of port-worker qualifications.
Professor Turnbull said: "The world's ports are experiencing major pressures; from privatisation schemes to bring in investment or new work practices, to increased flexibility and efficiency. However, many ports lack the appropriate mechanisms to involve the relevant parties in the process of change.
"The guidelines show senior managers, government officials and worker representatives how to negotiate that process, showing how they can achieve successful outcomes via social dialogue: through sharing information, consultation and negotiation."
Fast-moving changes in port mechanisation and communications technologies have led to strikes and other forms of industrial action in recent decades, leading to disruption to shipping, delayed investments and job losses.
In Europe, the EC initially planned to deal with these issues via a binding Directive, but Professor Turnbull’s research was instrumental in persuading the Commission that legislation would not create better labour relations, but a model of ‘social dialogue’ could achieve the goal.
Professor Turnbull’s work, together with his high visibility research on industrial conflict, led the ILO to commission him to craft a guidance manual for them to use to promote organisational change in ports via social dialogue.
His research showed that whilst some ports suffered frequent bouts of worker unrest, others were rarely affected by strikes or other forms of industrial disruption, typically as a result of effective dispute resolution procedures.
Later research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, showed that negotiation, consultation and information exchange between governments, employers and workers were a key mechanism in bringing industrial peace to many ports and developing operational efficiency.
Alette van Leur, Director Sectoral Activities Department (SECTOR), ILO said: "Professor Peter Turnbull has played a leading role in aiding the design of numerous packages to assist improving the ILO’s constituent capacity to perform social dialogue in ports. He has greatly aided the ILO’s work in the port’s sector towards the realisation of decent work for all."George Dragnich, Former Assistant Director-General of the ILO, noted: "Professor Turnbull's seminal role in designing and helping implement the ILO's undertaking to improve port labour relations proved vital to its ultimate success. In that this challenging project was taken at the behest of the European Commission, its favourable results led to much closer collaboration with the EC across the entire spectrum of workplace issues as covered by the ILO."
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