International Solidarity a Must for Global Transport Workers
August 19, 2009, 11:44 AM EST
Transport workers around the globe must commit to international solidarity efforts to improve working conditions, create decent work and promote sustainability as unions continue to face the challenges brought on by free trade and globalization, said International Transport Workers' Federation General Secretary David Cockroft in his address to CAW delegates attending the 9th Constitutional Convention on August 19.
Cockroft highlighted the work ITF affiliate unions and activists around the world that have taken action on major social and economic justice issues impacting workers, including the fight to release imprisoned Iranian trade union leader Mansour Onsaloo and the refusal of South African dock workers to handle munitions earmarked for Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean militia.
Israeli and Palestinian transport workers operating checkpoints in the West Bank have also engaged in solidarity efforts, through the ITF, to improve the delivery of goods and access to aid for citizens in the region.
Cockroft stressed the need for unions representing transport workers to think beyond their national borders and undertake efforts to organize global supply chains in an effort to build bargaining power as multi-national employers continue to expand global operations.
"Employers no longer restrict themselves to national borders and neither should we," Cockroft said.
Cockroft recognized the work of CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Jim O'Neil as a member of the ITF Executive Board since 1994, helping to create space for women on the Board and for his support on the ITF Young Workers Program.
The ITF is a Global Union Federation (GUF) and represents 4.5 million transport workers in 148 countries. The next ITF Congress will be held in Mexico City in 2010 and will focus on building strong unions and sustainable transportation. There are over 41,000 CAW transport workers affiliated to the ITF.