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ITF launches world ‘Ports of Convenience’ campaign

7 August 2006

The ITF Congress has voted in Durban to launch a worldwide ‘Ports of Convenience’ campaign to ensure that decent standards apply across the world’s ports. Delegates at the ITF Congress, representing the ITF’s 624 affiliated unions – including over 200 representing dockers – backed a global push whose first focus will be on the world’s largest global network terminal operators (GNTs).

Frank Leys, Secretary of the ITF’s Dockers’ Section, explained “Our first calls will be on the ‘big four’ GNTs, because we believe they are standard setters. They have it in their power to make a huge difference to dockers’ work across the world.”

“This is an exercise in dialogue and co-operation to ensure across the board good conditions. Working with the GNTs we aim to develop global framework agreements which national unions will know set certain basic standards they can rely on when negotiating locally.”

He continued: “Allied to this industrial strategy is a political one, by which networks of support and communication are built up to tackle crises, events and trends such as casualisation – replacing experienced dockers with temporary workers –  at a global or regional level. These will extend beyond dockers’ unions.”

Delegates of the Dockers’ Section Conference, meeting at the ITF Congress, authorised the ITF to begin the construction of these networks, produce educational and campaigning materials, and to approach the first of the GNTs.



Press pack, ITF ports of convenience campaign


What is the ITF?

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a global organisation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide. Unions – currently 624 from 142 countries – affiliate to the ITF, which is able to carry their interests into the global arena. More details: www.itfglobal.org/about-us/moreabout.cfm


What is the ITF Congress?

Being held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa, from 2 to 9 August, the four yearly congress is the ITF’s supreme decision making event, at which delegates from its affiliated trade unions are able to vote to determine the course of the ITF.  It elects the ITF’s Executive Board, President, Vice Presidents and General Secretary; approves – or not – the organisation’s last four year’s work; and sets the agenda for the next four years.  It also approves reports from the ITF’s industrial sections, which meet during the congress. The event is open to delegates, observers, press and public. Click on ‘Press Area’ at www.itfglobal.org/index.cfm for more details.


Why ‘ports of convenience’?

The campaign name deliberately links to the ITF’s long standing fight against flags of convenience, which have long been associated with a general lowering of standards for commercial gain. The aim of the campaign is to ensure that acceptable standards apply in ports and terminals around the world. The terms ‘port of convenience’ and ‘terminal of convenience’ refer respectively to ports or terminals that are sub-standard, ie those that do not meet the standards of unions affiliated to the ITF Dockers’ Section. 


What’s the background to the campaign?

1. The ITF Dockers’ Section Conference in Singapore in 2004 considered two important issues for the Section – the need for a ports of convenience (POC) campaign and how to respond to global developments in the ports sector, in particular, the growing power of multinational port companies also known as Global Network Terminal Operators. 

2. The Dockers Section Meeting in Rio in 2005 discussed these issues further and concluded that there was an urgent need to respond to threats to dockers’ jobs, conditions and industrial strength and therefore there was no reason to delay initiating a POC campaign.  It agreed that the approach proposed by the Secretariat’s discussion paper, which placed equal importance on addressing the power of global network operators and on using political campaigns at the regional and international level to strengthen affiliates, was an appropriate starting point.  The meeting also agreed that the input and agreement of affiliates should be sought to develop the goals and mechanisms of the campaign.

Consultations with affiliates

3. In line with the conclusions of the Rio meeting, the Secretariat has worked to facilitate input by affiliates in time for the Dockers’ Section Conference in Durban in 2006.  The POC Campaign was discussed at the Asia Pacific, African, and Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conferences in 2005, where supporting motions were passed.  In addition, the Secretariat organised a series of four day regional POC Campaign seminars for dockers’ affiliates in the sub-Saharan African region, the Asia Pacific region, the Middle-East and North Africa, and the Americas to identify key issues of concern to affiliates that should be addressed by the POC Campaign.  The seminars were also a means of helping unions and the Secretariat to prepare for the implementation of the POC Campaign by enabling affiliates to share information; identify common problems; develop ideas for regional strategies; strengthen campaigning skills; identify roles, capacities and follow-up priorities; and improve communications including building regional and company networks. 


What were the key areas identified during the development of the campaign?

During the meetings detailed above the key themes consistently identified by affiliated unions as the most important issues that they face were:
·               Global Network Terminal Operators (GNTs)
·               Competition
·               Privatisation
·               Casualisation
·               Lack of trade union rights, or lack of implementation or respect for such rights by either governments or employers


For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
Email: dawson_sam@itf.org.uk

International Transport Workers' Federation - ITF:
ITF House, 49 - 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
Email: mail@itf.org.uk
Web: www.itfglobal.org

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ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk