WMU Welcomes ITF General Secretary and President

On 5 December, President Doumbia-Henry welcomed Mr. Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and ITF President, Mr. Paddy Crumlin. The distinguished guests delivered a lecture to students in the Class of 2019 about the work of ITF globally. Following the lecture, Mr. Cotton and Mr. Crumlin had the opportunity to meet with ITF Fellows in the Class of 2019 prior to a meeting with President Doumbia-Henry.

Mr. Cotton provided the students with an overview of the ITF, a global union federation of transport workers' trade unions. He noted, in particular, the efforts of the ITF over the past 20 years to fight gender discrimination. “The key issue for women of the ITF is to make sure there is a space for them in the transport sector, and that there are opportunities for them to develop equally and fairly. One of our core issues is defending women transport workers against violence in the workplace. It is a strong way of mobilizing women’s empowerment and building networks and strong leaders in the trade union movement,” he stated.

In addressing the students, Mr. Crumlin noted the exceptional diversity of the students at WMU, and pointed to the opportunity they have, when they graduate as WMU alumni, to make a difference in the maritime industry. He stated, “WMU is an alma mater that is tying together a dysfunctional industry in a way that is creating functionality, harmony, equity and opportunity that was unforeseen. Your work is beyond boundaries, beyond ethnicity, beyond age and gender. You are going to be part of the accountability and the process of change. You can make a difference.”

President Doumbia-Henry thanked the distinguished guests and noted the long-standing support the ITF has provided to the University through funding 123 fellowships as well as research programmes and educational offerings. She stated, “The ITF is one of the most influential trade union organizations in the world, and a true champion of supporting and defending workers’ rights in the entire transport chain. Its proactive work is far-reaching and together with shipowners’ and governments, was instrumental within the International Labour Organization (ILO) in developing and adopting the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006 as amended), a landmark international treaty that has been designed to adapt to the changing circumstances and the future of the maritime industry. The ITF has also been truly effective in its worldwide campaign to promote decent work for seafarers, eliminate sub-standard ships and promote a level playing field. The important work that the ITF does to improve conditions for workers in the maritime transport sector, and transport chain globally, is to be complemented.”

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 new technologies likely to be introduced in the global transportation sector by 2040, with a special emphasis on maritime transport. The project focuses on assessing the implications of new technologies and automation on jobs and the employment situation in the transport sector, including the mitigation of some of the negative side effects of the implementation of technologies and automation. The second project concerns the ground-breaking seafarer welfare training programme MARI-WEL. Led by world-leading experts in the field of seafarer rights, regulations, and welfare issues, it is the first programme of its kind to deliver a comprehensive overview of the topics and issues that relate to seafarer welfare. MARI-WEL is delivered as a distance learning course that is designed to meet the needs of anyone who works with or interacts with seafarers, both onboard and onshore, including ship management companies, crewing agencies, port chaplains, and welfare providers. 

ITF is an international federation of transport workers' trade unions established in 1896. Today, it has a membership of 670 unions in 140 countries, representing over 19.7 million men and women in all transport sectors. The ITF promotes respect for trade union and human rights worldwide. The ITF is one of several global unions federation unions which are members of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The ITF, through the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, has to date funded the education of 123 WMU students from 44 countries, 40% of whom are female maritime professionals. 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).

WMU and ITF will continue to cooperate closely on future projects and programmes where synergies are found that contribute to the strategic goals of both WMU and the ITF.

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