ITF General Secretary Announces
May 2013 as His Retirement Date


December 2012


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David Cockroft, who has been general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) since 1993, announced in late October that he will retire at the end of May 2013 when he reaches age 60.


The announcement was made at the meeting of the ITF executive board in Copenhagen, Denmark, which also agreed to appoint Stephen Cotton, who is currently ITF maritime coordinator, as acting general secretary.


The SIU is an active ITF affiliate, and SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel serves as chair of the federation’s Seafarers’ Section.


Cockroft stated, “Next year I will have been the chief executive officer of this remarkable global union federation for 20 years. Although I was elected for a four-year period at the 42nd ITF congress in Mexico City in 2010, I feel it is important to give my successor enough time to establish good relations with every part of this organization prior to the 43rd congress in 2014.


“I am very happy that the board has decided to appoint Stephen Cotton to this position,” Cockroft continued. “Stephen has taken the maritime activities of the ITF, including the ITF flag of convenience (FOC) campaign and its younger brother the ports of convenience campaign, to new heights. There is not a shipping company or port employer anywhere that does not respect the strength of the ITF….


“As for my own future plans,” he concluded, “I remain committed to giving help to the development of strong, democratic, worker-led unions in every part of the world, but at a pace and to a timetable which enable me also to pay more attention to my family and friends.”


Cotton commented, “To step into David’s shoes and to take on this new role is a huge responsibility and an extraordinary challenge. But it’s not my responsibility alone, it is one shared by everyone within the ITF community worldwide.”


He continued, “As transport unions we are beginning to change the face of trade union power and make a real impact on the global economy. We will defeat those who would attack trade union rights and weaken workers’ industrial muscle. We will have more, bigger, better unions in the ITF and we will deliver real gains to ordinary workers everywhere. Now and in the future we have a real opportunity to take forward an ITF that’s built on the solid foundations left by the outstanding predecessors I’ve been fortunate to have had – the most recent of whom is David Cockroft, who has helped turn this organization into the global powerhouse that it is today.”


Heindel has worked closely both with Cockroft and Cotton for the past 14 years.


“Transport unions worldwide owe a huge vote of thanks to David Cockroft for his successful efforts during the past 20 years,” Heindel said. “Cockroft put the ITF on the map. Through his steady leadership, he pushed the FOC campaign to its current formidable state, and his legacy certainly will continue.”


Looking toward the future under Cotton’s guidance, Heindel continued, “Steve is a bright, young pragmatist that brings new ideas and determination. He will pick up on David’s legacy and bring the whole of the ITF to the next level. Steve has more than proven himself during his time as the federation’s maritime coordinator with his energetic approach to the FOC campaign. He also brings an ability to oversee a broader vision on supply-chain logistics. I am confident that the future of the federation is in good, steady hands.”


ITF President Paddy Crumlin added, “The unanimous decision of the executive board today reflects the mature leadership of David Cockroft and of the ITF. The personal, political and industrial qualities of the only candidate for acting general secretary, Steve Cotton, place the ITF well for the future.”



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