Maritime union activists develop campaigning skills in fight for jobs

Maritime union activists from around the world have converged for a global activist forum in Montreal.

The second ever Maritime Round Table is one of the flagship events of the ITF calendar. It brings together 150 activists, seafarers and dockers, from over 50 countries to sharpen campaigning skills, develop global campaign networks, and exchange techniques and strategies.

ITF President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin opened the event, highlighting the importance of campaigning in the face of increasing attacks from global capital.

'The 80 richest individuals now control more wealth in this world than 3.5 billion. We are asked to fall for lies - that individualism is somehow better than collectivism; that all we need to do is create more millionaires and the wealth will somehow trickle down'

ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton highlighted the importance of campaigning to the future of the ITF. 

‘Together we must campaign to grow our movement to build power for our affiliates and regulate global capital. We are absolutely determined that meetings like this will drive the agenda of the ITF. Individuals like you - you own the ITF. You will shape our future.'                       

A major focus of the event is the fight to save maritime jobs, which are under threat worldwide from government policy and global free trade agreements.

Like seafarers in Australia, Canadian seafarers are fighting government attacks that seek to replace the vital domestic shipping industry with unregulated ‘flag of convenience’ vessels and exploited workers paid just $2/hour. The changes are part of a new free trade agreement known as ‘CETA’.

Participants at the event took to the streets to support the campaign. 

Rob Ashton, ILWU National President addressed the rally, 'It's not only the jobs of Canadian seafarers that are under attack from this CETA free trade agreement, it's our entire country'.

'Today, the global Labour movement stood together and fought back, and Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau heard us loud and clear. We are confident this will lead to a positive outcome for cabotage in Canada and that the rights of seafarers will be protected’, said President Jim Given of the Seafarers International Union of Canada.

The MUA is hosting a fringe event to highlight the union’s ongoing fight to protect the jobs of Australian seafarers against similar attacks in Australia.

A live podcast broadcast from the event is available here