After years in the making, the Maritime International Federation has cleared the final hurdle in being established.
At the Maritime Union of Australia Special National Council meeting in Sydney this week, the MUA along with Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Papua New Guinea Transport and Maritime Worker’s Union and Timor Leste’s SMETL, have formed a union federation in order to build capacity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Leaders from the newly formed Independent Federation of Myanmar Seafarers (IFOMS) and from the long established Indonesian seafarer’s union the KPI, were also in attendance as observers and expressed an interest in joining up.
The structure was also formalised with MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin being elected general secretary, MUNZ General Secretary being elected as president and former MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman started in his new role as the Federation’s executive officer.
Crumlin said the formation of MIF was just an extension of the historical partnerships the unions have had which other in the past 150 years.
“The Federation is a mutually beneficial program which will help raise the standards for maritime workers in the developing affiliated unions, while providing opportunities for our members on projects in the region.
“We have to be progressive and we have to project ourselves out in what the world requires today.
Following Crumlin’s introduction, Doleman outlined his tentative plans in taking the MIF forward.
He mentioned that he had witnessed the atrocious health and safety practices for maritime workers in Timor Leste in a recent visit.
“The joint resources of the unions can be used to implement better safety practices in Timor to stop the rate at which people die on the wharves and at sea,” he said.
“This is a real, practical and immediate project we can get up.
The Federation is a registered entity and the Constitution was also endorsed by the Executive. Doleman will now, working with the ITF, pull together a work plan with the members of the Federation on the work that needs to be done in our region and elsewhere in the interests of maritime rank-and-file MIF members.
"This is a significant event with unions across different nations working closely together in a structured and committed way to build power within the MIF and within each of the federation members," he said.
The PNGTMWU's Alex Rawali said his union had already seen an increase in membership and other benefits through regional cooperation and that these beneficial outcomes would only continue as part of MIF.
Paulino Da Costa and Mario Guterres de Oliveira from SMETL, Hanafi Rustandi from the KPI and Aung Kyaw Linn and Shwe Tun Aung from IFOMS all joined in the discussion before Fleetwood wrapped up proceedings.
“Cooperation across borders is the way forward,” Fleetwood said.
“This Federation will allow us to grow, better organise and evolve.”
For all of the pictures from National Council, please go here.