The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has opened a new regional office in Panama, choosing the location based on its importance as a global transport and logistics hub, as well as being a priority in the future working plans of this global union.
ITF president, Paddy Crumlin, stated:
“Panama is a key focus for the ITF because of a major union-building programme we have developed together with our affiliates in the country and the region. Its geographical location makes it an ideal hub for this work, and we know that this new office will play an important role in coordinating and managing our activities. We want more affiliates from Latin America and the Caribbean to help them to build strong unions and to significantly improve labour standards”.
The opening of the new regional office takes place at a time when labour relations across local and regional transport sectors have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and by unilateral policies, such as the suspension of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and the compulsory reduction of working hours and wages, all of which have affected workforce stability, safety, and health. As well as changes to policies and conditions, employers continue to refuse to establish dialogue through which workers can voice their concerns.
ITF General Secretary, Steve Cotton, added that this new office is a valuable tool to help the ITF advance in developing strategic policies that the regional transport industry demands, to have a positive impact on the supply chain and to achieve greater representation at the international level to help unions increase their membership and collective bargaining power.
“Logistics cities like Panama have enormous importance for the transportation industry. Panama is one of the main hubs in the world and the ITF is mobilizing its affiliates in the country through strategies to obtain their recognition and create bonds of international solidarity".
“Panamanian, Latin American and Caribbean transport workers are facing many challenges, but they are not alone. Panama has a promising future and together we intend to ensure that this future works for everyone”, Cotton concluded.
ITF regional secretary for the Americas, Edgar Díaz, remarked:
“Our work to support our union members in Panama, Latin America and the Caribbean is well known, and this new office will allow us to strengthen ties and coordinate working plans across all the transport sectors, as well as undertaking the important task of promoting policies that include women and young workers in union building efforts. We have created an ambitious working plan, but we are certain that with this new region office, we will be able to better achieve our goals. Our team is highly trained, committed and supportive of all transport workers across our region.”
The launch was attended by the ITF executive board members Julio Sosa, Janaina Fernandes, Epitacio dos Santos; Elvia Bustavino, general secretary of The Panama Maritime Authority; Jaime Rozo and Tomas Hassan, members of the Panama Maritime Chamber; Gustavo Pérez, general director of the Civil Aeronautical Authority of Panama; Griselda Melo, director of the National College of Journalists; Marcela Ortega, executive director of Logistics Business Council.
The ITF’s headquarters is in London and it has regional offices in Abidjan, Amman, Brussels, Delhi, Hong Kong, Montreal, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo.
About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led global federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions from 147 countries to secure their 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.