ITF unions unite to strengthen Our Public Transport

Unions from 40 countries came together on 21st-22nd February to evaluate and strengthen the ITF’s Our Public Transport programme.

“The Urban Transport Committee provided a valuable opportunity to discuss developments in the urban transport sector, the impact on workers and unions, and the response of the ITF and its affiliates,” commented Noel Coard, head of ITF Inland Transport Sections.

Delegates actively exchanged experiences and ideas, resulting in new and dynamic forms of collaboration, solidarity and decision-making. “The strong and vibrant spirit in the room reflected our collective determination to reclaim the meaning of public transport for the majority of people, and not the profit-making interests of private companies,” said Asbjorn Wahl, chair of the ITF Urban Transport Committee.

  • Delegates reinforced the need for OPT to be inclusive of different realities, types of unions, and categories of urban transport workers –formal, informal, women and young workers, in both public and private employers.
  • There was strong support for strengthening union networks in multinational companies and the practical steps that need to be taken towards this goal, and developing the People’s Public Transport policy as a campaigning platform for ITF affiliates. 
  • Democratic control by workers and communities in public transport was a strong theme, and delegates discussed how this should be embedded in demands for public ownership as well as responses to technology and the future of work in urban transport.
  • The committee focused on the integration of gender in OPT, and the decision to support the development of a charter for women urban transport workers will take issues of gender equality to a deeper level. 
  • There were ideas for innovative campaigning including the use of data visualisation to strengthen the stories and voices of young workers.
  • There was a call to target a major international city for an integrated public transport campaign.

After two full days of intensive discussions, delegates then adopted motions expressing solidarity with Thai rail unions fighting privatisation, and condemning attacks on the right to strike in Sydney, Australia.

Alana Dave, OPT programme leader commented that is was an inspiring meeting with a strong mandate to continue to build the OPT programme, with more unions wanting to be actively involved.

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