St John’s, Antigua — The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) ― the democratic, global union federation of 670 transport unions in 147 countries, representing over 18 million transport workers across the globe ― Tourism Services Conference began today in Antigua & Barbuda.
Hosted by the Antigua & Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU), the conference comes at a critical juncture for an industry that continues to feel the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ITF Tourism Section Chair and Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, ABWU General Secretary Sen. David Massiah, said today that the conference presents a significant opportunity to highlight the global challenges and concerns for the tourism industry.
“The beach is just the beginning of tourism in Antigua & Barbuda. Tourism is not just the beach — tourism supports over 80% of our economy. It is our economy,” said Sen. Massiah. “And the wealth that tourism brings in must be shared with the workers who create it. Tourism must be a source for the development of our countries, our economies and our people. That’s why globally we are building a tourism strategy around people, power and planet to make the industry one that works for workers.”
Over the course of the conference, trade unions from around the world will discuss and debate strategies to address the challenges facing the industry. Leaders will highlight solutions for issues facing the industry — from precarious employment to the exploitation of vulnerable workers — in Antigua & Barbuda, the Caribbean region and globally, and develop strategies to win better working conditions and strengthen labour rights, ensuring that workers have a powerful voice in the future of this vital industry.
The Conference will feature representatives from the local tourism industry including Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Safety & Labour, Mrs. Joan Carrott, and the Executive Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association (ABHTA), Patrice Christian Simon.
“There’s a simple fact that tourism, and its workers, the tourism professionals driving the industry, are not being recognised for the work they do and the economic prosperity that they generate for their economies. We know that every tourism job creates another 1.5 jobs in the supply chain and the broader economy,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the ITF.
“The tourism economy is fragmented, gender-segregated, full of insecure work where many of the jobs are informal and don’t enjoy the social protections — like pensions and sick pay — that they should. We fight every day as trade unionists to campaign, to bargain, and to collaborate with industry and governments to ensure that workers get their fair share. And critical to this is recognising that women and young workers are the dominant force in this industry and we need to ensure in our unions that they have the space to lead.”
“The ITF is forging a path forward to build an industry where the tourism services sector is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable, and an industry that puts people and the planet first,” said Cotton.