World union meeting commences today in Panama

The global union federation for the world’s transport workers begins a top-level meeting in Panama today. The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has chosen the country as venue for the meeting in recognition of the nation’s status as a key global transport hub and component of the Federation’s plans for building the future of work. 

The ITF meeting brings together the organisation’s governing executive board from around the globe, and takes place at the Riu Plaza Hotel, Panama City, today and tomorrow.


Photo of speakers delivering reports

ITF president Paddy Crumlin explained: “Panama is a key focus for us, and site of a major union-building programme in concert with our Panamanian member unions. This priority project aims to support the transport workers of Panama, and learn from their experiences.  The nation is also an important high growth country, part of a changing landscape of global trading patterns in which the voices of workers must and will be heard.”

Mr Crumlin continued: “Logistics city states such as  Panama have enormous importance for the transport industry. Panama is becoming one of the world’s key hubs and the ITF is responding to this by helping mobilise its strategic workers to gain the recognition and forge the international links of solidarity that that new status deserves.”


Photo of Paddy Crumlin and Steve Cotton opening the ITF executive board.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added “Our work to support our colleagues working on the Panama Canal is well known (see and it is  increasingly closely coordinated with similar work alongside Panama’s other maritime workers, its dockers – who are witnessing plans for increased automation via new concession – airport, logistics and public transport workers. They are all a vital part of the effort to build the union power that those workers merit, and to best represent workers outside the country too in all those multinationals and regional companies that have a base here.

He concluded: “Panamanian transport workers face challenges, but they do not face them alone. This country is an exciting place, with an exciting future. Together we intend to ensure that that future works for all.”

The ITF executive board is the organisation’s senior decision making body, which governs it between its four yearly congresses. At this event it will hear reports on its unions’ work, concerns and challenges worldwide, and formulate the strategies and tactics to address them.