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The transport workers’ movement is on the ground helping Ukraine

12 Apr 2022

An injury to one is an injury to all. This age-old slogan of the trade union movement has taken on an all too literal meaning in the past weeks as war has engulfed Ukraine. In the last two weeks, the ITF and ETF have facilitated important solidarity between unions across Europe and those in Ukraine, delivering nearly 1000 mattresses and sets of bedding to Ukrainian rail workers displaced into western Ukraine.

Between Friday, March 25 and Monday, April 4 hundreds of sets of mattresses, blankets, pillows and linens were loaded onto trains in Przemyśl, Poland near the Ukrainian border and transported to Lviv in western Ukraine for Ukrainian rail members and their families in need. This was made possible by the outstanding work of both ITF road and rail affiliates in Poland, they facilitated transport over the border into western Ukraine on Ukrainian passenger trains. This vital solidarity work was also supported by the Swedish affiliate SEKO and Union to Union.

Once in Lviv these crucial supplies were distributed by the our railway affiliates in Ukraine. Their members have continued to run trains throughout Ukraine since the conflict began. Working courageously and tirelessly, at great personal risk, they are evacuating millions of refugees from Ukraine, primarily into Poland at Przemyśl, and delivering humanitarian supplies on the return journeys. Since the beginning of the war, the railway has transported almost 7,500 tons of humanitarian goods by passenger cars, most of it going to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Odessa.

A joint ITF and ETF team were on the ground in Przemyśl to coordinate the final stages of this emergency project.

Noel Coard, ITF Inland Transport Section’s Secretary, remarked:

“Every act of solidarity is magnified by the share tragic circumstances that the people of Ukraine find themselves in. Every worker, whether they be a train guard, cleaner or engineer or train conductor is continuing to risk their lives and those of their families to continue to keep the railway operating in Ukraine so as to help those most in need. This courageous act by ordinary people should be a shining light to us all on what real solidarity means.”

Josef Maurer, ETF Head of Operations, Central and Eastern Europe and Equalities:

“We are proud to facilitate and support solidarity actions like this one getting much needed supplies to internally displaced Ukrainian rail workers. An injury to one is an injury to all – the motto of the trade union movement is all too literal in the case of Ukrainian workers. But this war is a reminder that the labour movement must do everything in its power to support workers under fire and promote peace.”