It is with both deep sadness and fond memories that we have learned of the passing of former ITF president Jim Hunter. On behalf of the entire ITF family, and especially our affiliates in the railway section and the North American region, we would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to Jim’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Jim was elected president at the ITF’s 35th Congress, held in Luxembourg in 1986, to succeed his fellow railwayman Fritz Prechtl of Austria. Born in 1932, as a worker on the Canadian National Railway Jim had risen through the ranks of the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transportation and General Workers Union to become the union’s president. During Jim’s tenure at the ITF his home union merged with the Canadian Auto Workers to form what later became Canada’s largest union, Unifor.
Jim was elected unanimously in Luxembourg and went on to serve through the 36th Congress (Florence) before stepping down at the 37th (Geneva) to be succeeded by Eike Eulen of Germany. The first ever non-European president in the ITF’s 90-year history, Jim served the organisation during a period of seismic change which saw the end of the Cold War and the rapid liberalisation and privatisation of transport services across the world. 94 new unions joined the ITF between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Jim’s retirement in 1994, testament to his leadership in a changing world.
In his outgoing Congress address in Geneva, at which he received the ITF’s gold badge, Jim declared that “transport can be a critical leading sector in our hopes for a better world. Transport is, by its very nature, a public good and a public service which must be planned on a social basis, and must take into account the environment as well as the needs of the community as a whole”. These sentiments could not be of greater relevance to the ITF of 2019.
Jim will be sorely missed within the ITF family. In his memory, we will continue to struggle for a world in which transport workers everywhere enjoy fair treatment in safe workplaces.
Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary
Paddy Crumlin, ITF president