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ITF and IUF forge Tourism Workers’ Alliance to drive rethink of global tourism model

news 20 Apr 2023

St John’s, Antigua — The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF) have joined forces to create the Tourism Workers’ Alliance. The Alliance is a collaborative trade union initiative designed to align the efforts of the ITF and IUF to amplify the voices of over 270 million tourism and transport workers.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the ITF Tourism Services Section Conference in Antigua and Barbuda to establish the Alliance to better protect the rights and safeguard the futures of travel and tourism workers worldwide.

The agreement comes in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis which hit the tourism sector and tourism-dependent economies extremely hard. At the height of the pandemic, global job losses in the tourism workforce exceeded more than 62 million workers, and amplified existing inequalities between men and women, formal and informal workers and migrants and national workers.

The four-year agreement creates a framework of joint participation to:

  • Collectively develop an organising strategy to bolster union representation across the sector.
  • Shape policy development and monitor the implementation of agreements in critical areas such as environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
  • Launch targeted campaigns to engage and influence employers, stakeholders and global institutions to improve labour standards including the UN World Tourism Organisation.
  • Advocate for industry reform through the adoption of the International Labour Organisation’s conclusions on the sustainable recovery of the tourism sector.

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary said: “While it’s welcome news that travel and tourism numbers are sharply rebounding, that shouldn’t distract from the gaping flaws in the sector’s current business model that the pandemic laid bare. The Tourism Workers’ Alliance will align efforts by the ITF and IUF to organise tourism workers, elevate their collective voice, shape global and regional policy and secure better collective agreements across the tourism sector and its supply chains.”

Sue Longley, IUF General Secretary said: “This agreement is an important step forward in securing a safe, fair and sustainable future for a strategically important sector that employs hundreds of millions of people worldwide and serves as a catalyst for economic growth and social development. With the sector on a strong path to recovery, governments, international institutions and employers must negotiate with trade unions to redefine the industry with workers at its centre. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are key to improving working conditions, wages, occupational health and safety, social protections, and gender equality.”

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President said: “If you look at the agreement it represents what, as a global labour movement, we should be doing. In signing this MoU we are making a joint commitment to build momentum in our work. We have the passion, desire and commitment to amplify the voices of millions of tourism workers, and now is the time to realise our shared ambition for the industry to transition into one that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.”

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