ITF Panama meeting is launchpad for international action

The ITF has used a high level meeting in Panama to make major national and international decisions. It chose the country as the location for its executive board to meet last week in recognition of its status as a key global transport hub, and in line with Panama’s role in the ITF’s plans for building the future of work.

The two day EB meeting, which closed on Friday afternoon, followed a successful ITF women’s meeting and preceded one by ITF youth. The executive board – the ITF’s senior decision making body, which governs it between its four yearly congresses – then addressed an agenda packed with reports on unions’ work, concerns and challenges worldwide, and formulated the strategies and tactics to address them.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin explained the choice of location: “Panama is a key focus for us, and site of a major union-building programme in concert with our Panamanian member unions. The nation is also an important high growth country, part of a changing landscape of global trading patterns in which the voices of workers must and will be heard.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton applauded the welcome offered by Panama and its trade unions and the success of the event. He said that Panamanian transport workers face challenges, but they do not face them alone. He described Panama as an exciting place with an exciting future and said the ITF would help to to ensure that that future works for all.

Delegates – who represent transport workers’ unions around the world – also spoke out publicly on two issues. They united in condemning TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement and CETA (the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) and once again raised the alarm about a culture of privatisation and failure to involve workers that is putting operations in the new Panama Canal locks at risk.

You can catch up on last week’s events in Panama on Twitter using the hashtag #ITFPanamaEB and at


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