Heindel Re-Elected as Chair of Federation’s Seafarers’ Section
The 44th International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Congress, which took place in Singapore from Oct. 14-20, marked the first time the event has ever been held in Southeast Asia. The ITF Congress included participants from 140 countries, representing over 600 transport unions, including the SIU.
According to the ITF, “Congress is the ITF’s core decision-making event. Every four years, we invite our affiliates to join us and stand together in one place to collectively contribute to shaping the future of transport workers. On behalf of the 19.7 million transport workers in the ITF family, affiliate representatives have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to elect leaders, bring forward motions, and update our constitution to reflect the changing world we live and work in.”
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said before the event, “This Congress is all about transport workers building power through innovative campaigns, growing membership and influencing policy. By uniting our efforts, we can ensure that the future of work provides good opportunities for all transport workers.” Cotton was re-elected during the event by the delegates to serve another five-year term.
“We fight for peace, freedom and the rights of all workers. These are the values of the ITF,” said re-elected ITF President Paddy Crumlin. Crumlin opened the convention by announcing this was the largest yet, with the most delegates from the most unions and nations in the 122- year history of the organization.
SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, who serves as the chairman of the ITF Seafarers’ Section, spoke about the success of this year’s gathering, saying, “This congress was the largest and most productive congress I have attended for the ITF. The Seafarers’ Section’s plans and priorities for the next five years will include promoting and enforcing cabotage laws and regulations, promoting the retention of women and young seafarers, investing in maritime skills and seafarer career paths, seafarers’ mental health, effective implementation of on-board seafarers’ safety committees, influencing the impact of technological change through strong guidelines, and advancing working and safety standards at the ILO and IMO. Additionally, the Seafarers’ Section will work to raise the health and wellbeing profile for seafarers by ensuring its inclusion into maritime academies’ curriculum and through negotiations with employers.”
Heindel was re-elected chair of the Seafarers’ Section. His term will be for five years as the delegates approved a constitutional change to hold conventions every five years, starting with this period.
Issues addressed at the Congress included the election of the ITF’s officials, motions and amendments to the ITF’s Constitution, and reports on activities, financial statements and auditors’ reports since 2014. At an extracurricular event held after one of the daily ITF Congressional sessions, delegates watched a short documentary on the dangers being experienced by those who make their living by fishing the world’s oceans. In addition, they received a book (“Dreaming of a Better Life: Humans as Commodities” by Stefan F. Lindberg and Lennart Johnsson) from the ITF Seafarers Trust, which provided graphic photos and details of what these workers and their families endure on the job and at home.
The guest of honor for this year’s opening ceremony was the Secretary- General of the National Trades Union Congress, Singapore, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ng Chee Meng.
Crumlin closed the 44th Congress by saying, “Congress has finished; now the hard work begins on the long road to justice, peace and freedom.”