Delegates to the ITF Oceania Seminar in Sydney today called for an sub regional office to help organize workers in the Pacific, provide training, create jobs, and highlight the plight of islanders who are facing oblivion with climate change.
The ITF office proposed for Sydney, Australia, would have a full time official and seek government funding.
It would be tasked to help organize independent unions, training and jobs in the region and work as an organizing centre.
ITF General Secretary David Cockroft supported the proposal and committed the Federation to have a full time official, Mark Davis, working in the region by January next year.
“There’s been excitement and enthusiasm generated over the past three days,” said MUA National Secretary and ITF executive board member Paddy Crumlin. “We often say don’t go in and get the hopes of workers up if you can’t deliver. Don’t get them to sign up in the face of government opposition, don’t go asking working men and women to take great risks unless we can go the distance. It’s an historic meeting and we have enormous responsiblities to make it happen. This is about real outcomes and I’m proud to have been part of it.”
“It’s been a remarkable, very stimulating discussion,” said David Cockroft. “We’ve created really good opportunities now to bring all of our Australian unions, all of our NZ unions, Timor Leste and all our Pacific unions together.”
The three day seminar comprised 80 transport union delegates representing more than 40 unions from Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, PNG, Fiji, Kirribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and Timor Leste.
Also attending the seminar were ITF Asia Pacific secretary Mahendra Sharma (India) and the newly elected chair of the ITF Asia Pacific region Hanafi Rustandi (Indonesia)
"As chair of the ITF Asia Pacific I’d like to focus more on the Pacific," said Hanafi. "The islanders have no future. For so many their lives are hopeless. They have problems with alcohol, unemployment, poverty and crime. The Irians, Ambonese, Tongans. If big business builds a hotel in Timor, Papua or the Pacific they must give the work to the local people. Don’t bring in Filipinos or Indonesians and leave the local people to just watch on.
"As Asia Pacific chair I would like to ask governments why government and business live off the poverty of the workers. They must realize this can’t continue because it affects security and national stability."