The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) 43rd congress in Sofia, Bulgaria has been hailed as the best ever at its closing ceremony today.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin was re-elected unopposed, while Steve Cotton was installed as general secretary.
FNV Bondgenoten’s Brigitta Paas will hand over the women’s vice president position to the host nation’s Ekaterina Yordanova from the FTTUB in two years’ time.
Mr Crumlin paid tribute to Ms Yordanova, who hosted the event where speakers included the prime minister and deputy prime minister of Bulgaria.
“What a great congress it has been and we couldn’t have done it without you, Ekaterina,” he said.
“We made a commitment to leave the Bulgarian trade union movement in a stronger position when we left and that has happened because people here now know the strength of this family.”
The ITF congress adopted a four-year work programme, focussing on organising key hubs and corridors, leveraging key industry players, activating mass union membership and responding to geographic shifts.
One of the key focuses of the conference was maintaining the right to strike as workers across the world continue to struggle for better rights and conditions.
Mr Crumlin said when he was elected four years ago, he detected a groundswell of support for a reinvigoration of trade union activism - not just in the transport and logistics industries but across the globe.
“The ITF understands just how interconnected we all are and how powerful that can make us if we work hard together and build on the solidarity between working men and women across supply chains, across industries, and across borders,” he said.
“The ITF lets brave men and women of the union movement know that their fight is not in vain, that they are part of something much bigger.
“I want to work with all of you to continue the incredible momentum we have built together, to seize this power to continue building a stronger ITF, a smarter ITF, an ITF that continues to improve the lives of millions across the world.”
Mr Cotton said that over the past four years a new social consciousness had begun, with uprising all across the globe and that the trade union movement would continue to provide the answers.
“Globalisation affects us all and it affects no group more than those working in the transport industry, so to achieve its mission of improving the lives of millions of transport workers across the planet the ITF needs to truly think globally,” he said.
“World trade dominates our national and international economies. It is a mighty engine linking labour throughout the world.
“We are all connected and across the globe it is transport workers who do the connecting. The mighty engine of globalized world trade – the defining symbol of our times – is powered by us: transport workers the world over.
“The mighty global economic engine has for too long been funnelling the majority of its wealth into the hands of the few and not the many. It is an engine that should benefit all of us.”