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ITF dockers’ and seafarers’ unions meet to forge priorities

news Press Release 04 Dec 2023

4 December 2023, Santiago – The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the democratic, global union federation of over 700 transport unions in 150 countries, representing over 18 million transport workers across the globe, will this week hold its Dockers’ and Seafarers’ Conferences in Santiago, Chile.

From 4-9 December, the conferences will see the world’s largest meeting of maritime workers’ representatives with approximately 300 delegates, from 129 unions in 70 countries coming together to share industrial campaigns, identify common issues, and agree priorities going forward.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section said: “Fifty years on from the 1973 military coup which saw the Pinochet regime suppress trade unions in Chile, we are proud to be able to play our part in strengthening trade unions globally and standing with our fellow trade unionists in Chile.”

“Maritime workers have a long tradition of international cooperation and solidarity, that have been the bedrock in our transformative power to shift the balance of power from capital to workers and lead the industrial and political changes that transport workers and our society need. Maritime workers move the world, and this week in Chile we will strengthen our unity and resolve and ensure that our collective voice is heard.”

The conference, hosted in the Chilean capital, comes as we look to our fight for Chilean seafarers’ right to work in their own coastal waters and securing strong cabotage laws that guarantee good jobs and a sustainable national trade.

“Unions will be tackling key issues impacting maritime workers globally and discussing and debating strategies to deal with the challenges facing the industry,” said David Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Section. “Whether we’re talking about local seafarers’ jobs in Chile, fighting for fundamental labour rights or responding to the deepening climate crisis, we know that the voice of organised labour is key to transforming our world.”

As COP28 takes place in Dubai, delegates in Santiago will also be addressing the significant issue of climate change, and how workers can be at the centre of the just transition.

Wind farm giant Ørsted’s refusal to recognise jurisdiction and negotiate with the dockers union, the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) will be on the agenda this week, as will DP World’s attempts to decimate employment standards in Australia.

“Across the world, we are seeing capital join hands to attack workers’ rights, and with it the prosperity and decent standards of living that democracies rely on. We have seen these attempts before, we have fought them and won – and this week in Chile maritime trade unionists will be coming together to join ranks across the world to win again”, said Crumlin.

The ITF Seafarers’, Dockers’ and Fair Practices Committee will put forward key motions to address challenges and put forward an agenda for maritime workers globally, including:

  • Protecting local seafarers’ jobs and cabotage in Latin America
  • Just transition for seafarers in Brazil and globally
  • Safeguarding maritime workers’ rights against artificial intelligence and automation
  • Driving LGBT+ equality and inclusion in the maritime industry globally
  • Strengthening collective rights for seafarers, including cadets, trainees and apprentices
  • Protecting seafarers’ rights and conditions for seafarers working on ferries and enforcing ITF’s Athens Policy

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About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice for nearly 20 million working women and men in the transport industry across the world.