WMU Welcomes ITF General Secretary

On 27 March, President Doumbia-Henry welcomed Mr. Stephen Cotton of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for his first visit to WMU since assuming the role of General Secretary in 2014. Following a meeting with the President and key faculty, Mr. Cotton delivered a lecture to students in the Class of 2018 concerning the work of the ITF globally.

ITF is an international federation of transport workers' trade unions established in 1896. Today, it has a membership of 670 unions representing over 19 million transport workers from some 147 countries. The ITF is one of the global unions federations, members of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

President Doumbia-Henry, in welcoming Mr. Cotton to the University, congratulated the ITF for the work it has done over the years to promote the welfare of its global membership. She noted the important role that ITF has played and continues to play in promoting, supporting and defending workers’ rights in the entire transport chain worldwide covering shipping, fishing, ports, aviation, road, rail and inland waterways. Regarding the visit Dr. Doumbia-Henry stated, “The ITF has been one of the most proactive and effective global unions and a powerful voice and actor in support of transport workers all over the world, covering all modes of transport and negotiating on their behalf, promoting decent work, and in particular rights at work. These extraordinary efforts directly support the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth. It was a privilege to receive Mr. Cotton and to enable our faculty and students to engage with him. It was also an opportunity for Mr. Cotton to discuss progress being made on two major projects currently underway with the ITF as well as further areas of cooperation.”

In his lecture, Mr. Cotton provided the students with an overview of the work and impact of ITF. He stated: “It is a privilege for me to engage with WMU students from 48 countries pursuing their masters degrees in the fields of shipping, fishing, ports and the logistics chain. The Future of Work, with the advances in technology and innovation, is one of the most important challenges we face today. We have to be ready to engage and we look to education, training and capacity building to ensure that the transport workers of today and tomorrow are equipped with the required skills and expertise for the jobs of tomorrow. As the global organization representing transport workers around the world, promoting and defending workers’ rights, we also have to be prepared to engage with governments and industry to address the challenges we face and find solutions that are in the best interest of all those we represent. In view of the resource pool available at the University, I look forward to a continued strengthening of our cooperation with WMU.”

ITF has been a long-standing supporter and partner of WMU. Currently the University is working closely with ITF on two projects. The first relates to the impact of technology on jobs and employment in the global transport sector. The second concerns educational modules on maritime welfare and well-being for professionals working in the maritime industry.

The ITF, through the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, has to date funded the education of 118 WMU students from 29 countries. The ITF additionally offers their fellows a week-long field study at the International Transport Workers’ Federation headquarters in London, which includes visits to Tilbury Port, seafarer welfare organizations and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The visit contributes to the strengthening of the ITF network of students and alumni.

Both WMU and ITF have agreed to continue to cooperate closely in the future. Such cooperation will not only cover the current projects mentioned above but also extends to the new areas where synergy is found and other programmes which contribute to the strategic goals of  both WMU and the ITF.

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