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ITF President's New Year message 2024

news 07 Feb 2024

Brothers and sisters of the ITF. 

2024: now opening up again. With all the challenges that are confronting us in an increasingly dysfunctional world. We have to continue with our work in building workplace accountability from the employer, in building safety, in building environmental sustainability, in building supply chains that add value and don't deplete value, that don't take and rob workers’ wages, that don't kill workers.

These are big challenges.

I've been the ITF President since Mexico City and together with Steve Cotton and the Executive Board we're determined to continue to have the ITF right at the centre of the campaign for workers’ rights, for human rights, for environmental rights, for employer accountability.

We need to join together in unity and determination. We've got some big challenges.

It’s appalling for all of us to see the devastation in Palestine, the devastation on the Gaza Strip, the devastation even within the West Bank. There needs to be peace and the ITF has been right in the forefront of calling on peace.

But because of the essential nature of supply chains into that area, we've got special responsibilities to make sure that those communities are secured against all the odds, and secured in a way that sustains peace in that region. It can only be done by ceasefire; it can only be done by proper and dignified recognition and respect.

We're campaigning for seafarers’ rights and trade union rights in Chile, where we had a recent meeting.

We're standing behind our Argentinian brothers and sisters in the extraordinary attacks under the newly elected government.

We need to go into Africa and continue to determine that we will fully support them in the integration and reintegration into the world economy.

As Asia Pacific grows larger and larger and larger, we need to concentrate on the pension plans within India and across Asia Pacific itself, making sure that trade unionism goes along with economic growth and accountability.

We need to take on the issues of the rebuilding of aviation and make sure that we're determining that the industry will be rebuilt around the highest standards of employment and not cutting across into the lowest standards of employment that goes along with cheap airlines.

It's important that we tackle the gig economy, automation and AI in a way that enhances jobs and doesn't undermine them.

And we've got other great challenges. We've got to continue the consolidation of our international supply chains. 

It doesn't matter whether it's in road, rail, aviation or in maritime and dockworkers – which are all are so essential to the world economy that has been mishandled by the neoliberal agenda that has removed workers’ rights, continued a race to the bottom through exploitation and tax evasion. All of the things that construct an international economy based on no accountability.

We are right at the centre of that.

We're right at the centre of being able to hold investment accountable to the highest standards of environmental, socially responsible employment conditions and good governance, where these companies that we put our pension funds into, that we put our lifetime investment of deferred wages into, to build a better workplace and a better community.

There has to be accountability, and we're at the forefront of that as well. That's your ITF, that’s our ITF. 

And when we come together in Marrakech at the end of the year, we'll be laying out a new programme. It's been a long time since we've met. Since we've had that democratic energy of working men and women in all of the areas, all the sections, all the regions.

I'll be standing again for your support and hope to have your support as President of the ITF so that we can continue the job that we started in Mexico City, continue to build on that construct of fairness, transparency, accountability, social justice and recognition.

For all people, regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of age. 

It's an exciting time for us. Let's look forward with optimism, unity, determination and courage because that's what gets us along. That's what has got us here and that's what will continue to sustain us and the 20 million workers that we represent directly, and the many more millions of workers out there that haven't got a right to be in a trade union and to have the recognition. That's part of our mandate too.

These are many challenges, but with our wonderful team in London and around the world, in the regions and the sections, and with your support, affiliate support – real working men and women – we'll get the job done, all right. 

So, let's have a 2024 to remember. Brothers and sisters, the ITF, we're here to stay.