On August 23rd, the Attorney General of the Fijian Government launched a public attack on the ITF's legitimacy. This came after we, together with the Fiji Trades Union Congress, exposed financial mismanagement that is putting the pension funds of hundreds of thousands of working people in Fiji at risk. This was our response, as covered on the front page of The Fiji Times.
Who is the ITF?
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is the voice of 18 million transport workers in every corner of the globe.
During pandemic lockdowns, while many people were locked down and able to work remotely from the comfort and safety of their homes, transport workers risked - and, in many cases, lost - their lives to keep the world moving.
Getting doctors and nurses to work, keeping food on our shelves, and doing the vital work of delivering vaccines. If it wasn’t for the sacrifices of transport workers, it is hard to imagine how much worse things could’ve been.
But now that the world is gradually returning to normal, it seems like many of those politicians who lauded transport workers as heroes have forgotten who it was that kept society moving.
Last week, the ITF, along with the Fiji Trades Union Congress, exposed the mismanagement and political interference by the Bainimarama Government which threatens to undermine the financial stability of Fiji’s National Provident Fund (FNPF).
Rather than recognising the gravity of the situation, the response from Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was to ask the question: who the ITF is. This very paper ran this as a front-page headline.
Let me answer that question very clearly.
The ITF is a global union federation of 700 trade unions, representing almost 18 million transport workers in 150 countries.
As General Secretary, I am also the chair of the Council of Global Unions, and Board Member of the UN Global Compact, an initiative of the United Nations that mobilises industry leaders globally to do business responsibly and improve the state of society.
Our President, Paddy Crumlin, is Co-Chair of the Committee on Workers Capital (CWC), the international body that promotes information sharing and joint action in the field of workers’ capital, the deferred retirement savings of workers.
When the ITF speaks, we are speaking on behalf of millions of ordinary working men and women in the transport industry - in Fiji and around the world. We campaign passionately to secure rights, equality, and justice for our affiliated unions and their members.
That’s who we are. And rather than attacking us for daring to hold their government to account, we implore the Bainimarama Government to take urgent action to address the questions that have been raised.
General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation
Sydney Office Head, International Transport Workers’ Federation