David Cockroft, who has been general secretary of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) since 1993, announced today that he will retire at the end of May 2013 when he reaches the age of 60.
The announcement was made at the meeting of the ITF executive board in Copenhagen, Denmark, which also agreed to appoint Stephen Cotton, who is currently ITF maritime coordinator, as acting general secretary.
David Cockroft explained: “Next year I will have been the chief executive officer of this remarkable global union federation for 20 years. Although I was elected for a four year period at the 42nd ITF congress in Mexico City in 2010 I feel it is important to give my successor enough time to establish good relations with every part of this organisation prior to the 43rd congress in 2014.”
“I am very happy that the board has decided to appoint Stephen Cotton to this position. Stephen has taken the maritime activities of the ITF, including the ITF flag of convenience campaign and its younger brother the ports of convenience campaign, to new heights. There is not a shipping company or port employer anywhere that does not respect the strength of the ITF.
“Although my formal retirement will be at the end of May next year Stephen and I will work together from the end of this meeting to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Both prior to and following my retirement date, I will provide any advice, assistance and support that Stephen needs to take over what is one of the most difficult, demanding but also rewarding jobs in the global trade union movement.”
“As for my own future plans,” he concluded, “I remain committed to giving help to the development of strong, democratic, worker-led unions in every part of the world, but at a pace and to a timetable which enable me also to pay more attention to my family and friends.”
Steve Cotton commented: “To step into David’s shoes and to take on this new role is a huge responsibility and an extraordinary challenge. But it’s not my responsibility alone, it is one shared by everyone within the ITF community worldwide.”
He continued: “As transport unions we are beginning to change the face of trade union power and make a real impact on the global economy. We will defeat those who would attack trade union rights and weaken workers’ industrial muscle, we will have more, bigger, better unions in the ITF and we will deliver real gains to ordinary workers everywhere.
“Now and in the future we have a real opportunity to take forward an ITF that’s built on the solid foundations left by the outstanding predecessors I’ve been fortunate to have had – the most recent of whom is David Cockroft, who has helped turn this organisation into the global powerhouse that it is today.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin added: "The unanimous decision of the executive board today reflects the mature leadership of David Cockroft and of the ITF. The personal, political and industrial qualities of the only candidate for acting general secretary, Steve Cotton, places the ITF well for the future."