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David Cockroft
2 years 2 months ago

I was shocked to hear of Janina's tragic death. She was one of the first ITF staff members to come from former Eastern Europe and (I think) the first from a former Soviet Republic at a time when I, as ITF General Secretary, was very keen to expand the coverage of ITF London staff. She accompanied me on an ITF mission to Poland in October 1993, acting both as a ( non maritime) adviser and as polish interpreter. I had many conversations with her in the evening. One day I asked her why, as a Lithuanian, she spoke such good Polish. She pointed out that her birthplace had been in Poland, under German occupation, and part of the Lithuanian SSR without having moved at all. So she spoke fluent polish from birth but also Lithuanian and Russian and then, in order to do her work as leader of the Lithuanian transport union, extremely good English. It made me feel very inadequate ! I had many great conversations with her about the polish unions and she told me ( afterwards) not just what they had said but whether they were telling the truth! She was so much more than an interpreter. I was very pleased when she applied for a position in the ITF inland transport section and she played a major global role in its development. I haven’t spoken to her much since I retired as GS in 2013, but I will never forget her dedication to international trade union solidarity as well as her dry sense of humour. RIP Janina .

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