Trade unions put productivity question to bosses

Improved use of technology solution to low productivity, says NZCTU

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) says improved use of technology by employers is one solution to the country’s low rate of productivity.

This, in turn, would help prevent jobs drifting overseas, as has happened most recently at Fisher & Paykel, says Confederation president Helen Kelly.

The Department of Labour has identified improved use of technology, including ICT, as one of seven key drivers of increased productivity, Kelly says.

Research has shown, however, that appropriate choice and implementation of the technology and adequate training of staff in its operation are factors that may undermine investment and reduce returns, she says.

The NZCTU runs worksite seminars to help people make appropriate decisions in these areas, Kelly says.

Not only can appropriate technology enhance the productivity of individuals, it can also replace repetitive jobs, giving employees greater job satisfaction and the chance to do more productive work.

NZCTU policy director Peter Conway pointed Computerworld to a case study on freight forwarder Toll TranzLink to illustrate the union argument. This document refers to the development of the TranzLink Enterprise Management System.

“The [project] team identified each step in the process of moving freight, developed detailed costings for different types of service and defined critical performance indicators that would enable Toll TranzLink staff to monitor operations in real time.

“A team of specialist external consultants came on board and drew on recent advances in GPS tracking, mapping technologies, bar-code scanning and wireless communications to develop programmes and process data collected across the Toll TranzLink network.

“A centralised data warehouse was established at the hub of the business.”

Toll TranzLink also emphasises the need to familiarise the staff with computer operation and the specifics of the system and to seek their help in designing the system to be accessible.

Toll TranzLink or NZCTU did not comment further before Computerworld’s deadline.

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