International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) General Secretary Steve Cotton has spoken of the MUA’s leading role in the international union movement at the MUA Quadrennial Conference.
Cotton started by describing his first visit to Australia in 1996.
The ITF, the MUA and Kiribati and Tuvalu seafarer unions were meeting with German shipowners to try to improve the situation for Pacific Island seafarers. The MUA helped get the shipowners to the table.
“The MUA is a union that gets things done,” Cotton said. “You play a role in empowering the global labour movement.”
Cotton described the Trade Union Royal Commission, and the attacks on the crew of the MV Portland, the CSL Melbourne, all backed by the Turnbull government. “We need to take this fight globally, to every institution,” he said.
“No matter what happens, you will never disappear. Every transport worker in the world knows you and knows ‘MUA here to stay!’ Merging will only give you more resources to fight. You have an influence all over the world about the campaigns that unions run.”
Cotton paid tribute to Paddy Crumlin: “He is tireless, and everywhere delivering your message: that we can do it better together. Paddy had a vision about what we needed to do with the ITF. We are carrying it out. The world has never been more unequal, or the media more hostile. We have not perfected Paddy’s vision yet, we still have a lot of work to do. But we are making progress.”
“You are running a ferocious campaign on Chevron. We have a lot of work to do in Asia, to organise and recruit workers, often in very complicated situations. We are running a campaign on DHL. We need to ensure we include young workers and get more money for the youth agenda. There are a number of women here who are members of the ITF Executive Board. We are building real leaders.”
The ITF also organised a mission of seafarers and dockworkers to Cuba. “We want to be alongside Cuban workers as you face your new challenges, unlike the capitalists who are there just in Cuba looking for new opportunities for themselves.”
Cotton concluded saying “Paddy is a tough taskmaster, but that is because he has a vision. The global union movement is now in better shape, and that is thanks to the MUA and your efforts. Let’s organise, let’s unite, and let’s fight! Thank you!”