Congress officially closed!
At the Africa/Arab world electoral group meeting, history was made when the African delegates voted by popular acclamation for 33 years old, Dorothy Nandera, to represent the continent at the "power house" of the ITF, the Executive Board. Her election came as a result of some misunderstanding amongs the Kenyan delegates, who was slated for that position. Until her elevation to that covetous position, she was secretary of the transport young workers of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union (ATGWU) of Uganda. She is the youngest ever to occupy that position since the inception of the ITF in 1896. When asked by this reporter, what is going to be her first challenge? She confidently said "I will advocate for more women representation at the board and encourage unions in the continent to include youths in their executives"
Parker Kamara (reporting from Sofia AAT the 43rd ITF congress)
Inland navigation: one of the smaller ITF sections, with a big victory to report – nothing less than the forming of a badly needed free trade union where none existed.
That’s what happened in Paraguay, where SOMUPA was formed in the teeth of blacklisting, employer opposition and a hostile media. That success was made possible through the help of Argentina’s SOMU union and the ITF
Hector Garcia, general secretary of the new union, explained: “Our work has faced many storms, but we have secured five CBAs and improved the conditions of our maritime workers. SOMU helped us all the way.”
SOMU’s general secretary Omar Suarez returned the compliment. “Nothing we’ve achieved would have been possible without the enormous solidarity we have witnessed. Solidarity is the most important tool that workers have.”
It was a great way to begin a conference: a stirring story that is vividly told in this film.
Not everything was a victory though, as section chair Nick Bramley made clear. He thanked the FTTUB for the privilege of being in Sofia, in the Danube Basin. “a great river,” he said, “but one typical of many of the problems the industry faces: social dumping, privatisation, unemployment.” After listing the initiatives of the last four years – Not just in Paraguay but also in Panama and the EU among others, he said “There is much to be done and we know we have to deepen our work and target resources at the national level. This is an industry which is very regionalised but is united over issues such as health and safety, training and crewing levels.”
Those priorities were reflected in the meeting’s focus on the need for continuing work in the fields of organising and health and safety, and a commitment to lobby the ILO to establish international minimum standards for inland navigation workers.
Take the pledge say no to violence against women
Fisheries fringe participants put their concerns, ideas and comments literally on the map to bring about a discussion on what the next steps could be for fighting the gross violations of rights in the industry.
A film highlighting the brutal reality of modern day slavery in fishing was aired. You can see it here.
The group debated how to engage companies and consumers on the realities of slavery being used to bring them low value goods like tuna.
Tweets from participants during the fringe included:
‘24,000 deaths per year in fishing industry is unacceptable price to pay #itfcongress2014’ @LA Hossner
‘Rousing call to action. Huge plan to fight modern slavery #itfcongress2014’ @avidadave12