Strong Unions - Sustainable Transport is adopted
ITF: 11 August 2010
There is a great responsibility on the ITF and its affiliated unions to defend transport workers in difficult times, using our collective resources as effectively as possible, delegates were told in the Strong Unions – Sustainable Transport debate at Congress.
The strategy document was unanimously adopted by yesterday’s plenary session. Introducing the document, ITF assistant general secretary Stuart Howard pointed out that it covered several themes, including defending basic union rights, addressing casualisation and outsourcing, fighting deregulation and liberalisation and meeting the challenge of climate change.
The subsequent debate took the form of a panel discussion of five delegates who shared their experience and ideas about building solidarity and strong unions. It was led by Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, and was followed by contributions from the floor of Congress.
Howard underlined the potential industrial strength enjoyed by transport trade unions. However, they had to organise nationally and address structural changes in transport and the political environment shaping them.
“We need to remind ourselves of the two basic functions of our industries – to move goods around and to move people around,” he added. “However much there is a global financial crisis, global production still relies on components and parts and finished goods being moved around the world along global supply chains and distribution networks.
“We have to look at how unions strengthen themselves and how we can make international union networks to challenge multinational corporations,” said Howard. “There are major attacks on public spending. We need to look at how we mount a global campaign to challenge public service cuts.”
One of the themes to emerge from the debate was that the notion that unions should not rely on social democratic political parties to deliver their objectives. Nor should they fund such parties that do not act in the interests of union members. These points were forcefully made by Edson Martins Areias of CONTTMAF (Brazil), Bob Crow of RMT(Great Britain), Roger Toussaint of the TWUA (US) and Niek Stam of the FNV Bondgenoten.
Stam deplored the way that many social democratic parties had adopted neoliberal policies.
“We have to start teaching our members what is left and what is right,” he said. “Maybe then they will realise what is going on when 50 per cent of the actions of these parties are against the interests of trade unionists.”
Introducing the panel discussion that preceded the general debate, Aidan White said of the panelists:
“Every single one of the unions has established good policy and good vision.The question is how do we find practical ways of delivering them.”