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Eike Eulen

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It is with great sadness that the ITF has learned of the death on 22nd December of Eike Eulen, former ITF president. Eulen died in Wedel, Germany, after a long illness.

Born in Berlin in 1936, Eulen soon found his way to the sea. He worked as a deck boy and then as an Able Seaman working up to first officer, from 1956 to 1968. A member of the then-ÖTV which was later to merge into Verdi, in 1968 Eulen became the regional secretary based in Hamburg and was responsible for fisheries and shipping. He also helped to manage the ÖTV maritime school in Hamburg. He was elected to the union’s management committee in 1984 and again in 1988. Eulen was active in the German port state control authority, a body whose Executive Board he came to chair. He was a member of the European Union Economic and Social Committee, and served as chairman of its transport group.

In 1984 Eulen was elected to the ITF Executive Board; in 1990 he was elected ITF Vice President and at the ITF’s Geneva Congress in 1994, became its President. He presided over just one ITF Congress, held in Delhi in 1998, yet oversaw an important period of ITF development and growth - the “mobilising solidarity” era - which saw an expansion of ITF regional activities and the establishment of ITF women’s structures as well as the start of campaign-based approach in the ITF.

Throughout, Eulen was marked by his unassailable loyalty to trade union unity and internationalism – as well as by his compassionate nature, roguish sense of humour and his flair for seafaring folksongs – a talent he readily summoned during the Delhi Congress electoral session while waiting for the Executive to emerge.

Retiring from the ITF in 1998 – and receiving its gold badge, Eulen remained a great supporter of ITF activities, for example assisting the “Free Osanloo” campaign in the mid-2000s, by collecting signatures with Amnesty International in Germany.

“Eike was a true democrat and international activist; his unassailable belief in the global trade union movement’s power to achieve peace and justice inspired us all.” said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton. “We have lost a dear friend.”