ITF replies to the A-G – Cotton: Federation represents millions of ordinary workers

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ITF secretary-general Stephen Cotton and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: FT ONLINE

When the International Transport Workers Federation speaks, it represents millions of ordinary workers in transport wworld, says ITF secretary-general Stephen Cotton.

Mr Cotton was responding to Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who attacked the international union body last week, asking “who is the ITF?”.

The controversy arose after ITF published a report Making the Fiji National Provident Fund Work for Workers, which was critical of FNPF’s recent investments and failure to protect workers.

Mr Cotton said ITF was the voice of the 18 million transport workers in every corner of the globe.

“During pandemic lock-downs, while many people were locked down and able to work remotely from the comfort and safety of their homes, transport workers risked – and in many cases lost their lives – to keep the world moving,” he said.

“Getting doctors and nurses to work, keeping food on our shelves, and doing the vital work of delivering vaccines.

“If it wasn’t for the sacrifices of transport workers, it is hard to imagine how much worse things could’ve been.

“But now that the world is gradually returning to normal, it seems like many of those politicians who lauded transport workers as heroes have forgotten who it was that kept society moving.”

He said ITF’s report had exposed threats to the stability of Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF).

“Rather than recognising the gravity of the situation, the response from Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was to ask who the ITF is.

“This very paper (The Fiji Times) ran this as a front-page headline. Let me answer that question very clearly. The ITF is a global union federation of 700 trade unions, representing almost 18 million transport workers in 150 countries.

“Our president Paddy Crumlin is co-chair of the Committee on Workers Capital (CWC), the international body that promotes information sharing and joint action in the field of workers’ capital, the deferred retirement savings of workers.

“When the ITF speaks, we are speaking on behalf of millions of ordinary working men and women in the transport industry – in Fiji and around the world.

“We campaigning passionately to secure rights, equality, and justice for our affiliated unions and their members. That’s who we are.

“And rather than attacking us for daring to hold their government to account, we implore the Bainimarama Government to take urgent action to address the questions that have been raised.”

The statement was endorsed by Sydney ITF head office Scott McDine, one of the authors of the report on FNPF. |

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