10 August 2023, Cancun, Mexico – Unions attending the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF) Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Conference in Cancun, Mexico, committed to take advantage of the region’s left-wing political swing to pursue a progressive workers’ agenda and approach to the transformation of transport networks in the region.
In recent years, there have been several left-wing victories in the region, including the election of Lula da Silva as President of Brazil and Gustavo Petro as president of Colombia in 2022. The region’s six largest economies currently have progressive governments.
“These victories represent a rejection of the neoliberal policies that have dominated the region for decades and a sign of growing support for social justice and economic equality,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF. “We have an opportunity to consolidate on the wins against the right wing and build a stronger labour movement across the region that demands and strengthens workers' rights.”
Crumlin said that as governments across the region embrace progressive ideologies, the ITF recognises the unique opportunity to collaborate with policymakers and employers to drive positive change, build sustainable transport infrastructure and to strengthen labour rights, ensuring the freedom to associate, collective bargaining, the right to strike and protection against exploitation.
This week labour leaders representing 90 unions from 26 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean will debate and endorse plans to build greater levels of cooperation between unions and establish regional and sub-regional strategies to forge strategic partnerships, facilitate dialogue, and foster stronger cooperation between stakeholders across the transport industry.
ITF General Secretary Cotton invited delegates to work together to maintain and leverage the political momentum to improve the lives of transport workers and build a more sustainable and equitable transport system.
“We can’t let this opportunity pass us by,” said Cotton. “By collaborating with progressive governments, allies and responsible employers, we can build a future where workers' rights are upheld, and the transport sector serves as a pillar of environmental and social responsibility."
“The ITF are 100% committed to play our role, but we must be bold, ambitious and focused in what we want to achieve. This region can be a positive example for region around the globe for what socially, economically and environmentally sustainable transport systems can look like.”
Pablo Moyano, ITF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Vice Chair said: "This week we have seen the commitment of trade unions from Latin America and the Caribbean to bring about real change. There is a struggle in the world against the rise of the extreme right and how workers must be defended more than ever. There are elections in Argentina on Sunday, and we are campaigning to ensure that the right wing does not win because they have said during their campaign that if they win the first thing that they will do is to abolish the collective bargaining agreements. Trade unions in the region must undertake the fight against the right wing that wants to take away workers' rights, as they have done to some of our brother countries.”
Edgar Diaz, ITF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Secretary said: “We must coordinate, collaborate and use the momentum from this historic conference to further advance the rights of workers across right across the region. On behalf of the ITF, I thank all delegates for their commitment to collectively tackle the challenges we face, because united we bargain and divided we beg.”
About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a global, democratic, affiliate-led movement of 740 transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives, connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 153 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the 20 million transport workers who move the world.
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