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World anti-Aids campaign previews at global union congress

7 August 2006

Global union the ITF, meeting at its Congress in South Africa, voted today to prepare a worldwide campaign against HIV/Aids that will be launched on World Aids Day, 1 December 2006.

Delegates representing the ITF’s 624 affiliated unions committed their unions to a campaign of programmes and activities designed to combat the spread of the virus, and provide care and support to those with HIV/Aids and their families.

The wide ranging campaign will involve ITF unions in everything from HIV prevention through education, film and radio, to organising counselling and testing facilities, and fighting for anti-retrovirals and against prejudice.

Dr Asif Altaf, ITF Global HIV/Aids Project Coordinator, commented: “AIDS is the most globalised epidemic in human history. For years it was seen as medical and health problem, but in reality it is also profoundly influenced by social, economic and political factors.”

“Some groups of workers are at particular risk due to the nature and conditions of their work, and transport workers and fall into this group. This has fed an ever increasing effort on our part to tackle this problem, of which this campaign is the latest – and biggest – example.”



ITF Aids campaign press pack


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 is the ITF planning a campaign?

[if !supportLists]·         Transport workers all over the world are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, but little attention has been paid to reducing that vulnerability.

[if !supportLists]·         It is now well established that without the active involvement of transport workers and their unions, it is impossible to develop a viable response to the pandemic.

[if !supportLists]·         There is a long-standing demand from affiliates for a campaign against HIV/Aids.

[if !supportLists]·         “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise” is the slogan of World AIDS Day 2006. This campaign is our chance to speak out publicly and make a commitment.

[if !supportLists]·         The ITF strongly believes that, with the organisational strength of over 600 affiliated unions in 142 countries, we can make a difference and keep transport workers and their families healthy and safe from HIV/Aids.


What is the ITF suggesting unions can do?

[if !supportLists]·          Consider HIV/Aids as an important issue in their core strategies and programmes.

Get involved and actively participate in the programme organised by the National Aids coordination committee.

[if !supportLists]·         Be a member and participate in different national and regional committees, meetings and seminars, raising  the profile of “HIV as a workplace issue”

[if !supportLists]·         Hold activities at union and national level

[if !supportLists]·          Organise educational activities to increase HIV/Aids awareness among members.

[if !supportLists]·          Organise a discussion session on the importance of union involvement in HIV programmes

[if !supportLists]·          Organise rallies

[if !supportLists]·          Organise events to involve and inform the families of transport workers

[if !supportLists]·          Produce campaign materials

[if !supportLists]·          Target the media

[if !supportLists]·          Raise awareness on issues affecting women transport workers

[if !supportLists]·         Initiate partnerships to develop prevention and support programmes with existing development partners and NGOs (eg Unicef, Solidarity Centre, Care, FHI etc) working in your country.

[if !supportLists]·         Organise voluntary counselling and testing facilities for members and their families.  

[if !supportLists]·         Organise cross-border activities in partnership with unions in neighbouring countries


Previous/current ITF initiatives against HIV/Aids

In the late 1980s and early 90s many ITF-affiliated unions, especially those from the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, started to make urgent appeals to the ITF to act on this growing problem. The ITF immediately responded and, in collaboration with a number of its affiliates, began making interventions aimed at addressing the situation.

The history of the ITF’s projects and initiatives demonstrates that transport unions can make a difference in the fight against HIV/Aids. In fact most past examples of success this field were driven and inspired by a strong civil society.

Among the notable (past and current) HIV/AIDS interventions carried out by ITF globally are:

* HIV/AIDS and transport workers in Africa: This is a continuation from previous ITF projects in Africa encouraging affiliates to recognise HIV/AIDS as a workplace and trade union issue. This project puts particular emphasis on the development of workplace policies and collective bargaining.
Project Coordinator: Romano Ojiambo-Ochieng (based in Uganda)
Project Consultant: Geneviève Mukandekezi (based in Rwanda)
Project Period: 2004 - 2006

* HIV/AIDS and transport workers: South Asia. This project is primarily concerned with focusing on HIV/AIDS as a trade union and workplace issue. Project activities include awareness-raising seminars and work towards the elimination of stigma and discrimination in the workplace.
Project Period: 2005 - 2006

* Global HIV/AIDS Project: The main long-term objective of the project is to significantly reduce the vulnerability of transport workers and their families through union coordination on an international scale, mobilising and globalising solidarity.
Project Coordinator: Dr Syed Asif Altaf
Project period. 2005 - 2008

* Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project in the Abidjan-Lagos Transport Corridor: Launched on 11 December 2003 by the World Bank as a four-year HIV/AIDS prevention project. The corridor and the project include five countries: Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Our affiliates in Cote d’Ivoire and Togo are taking part in this project.

* REDSO Transport Corridor Initiative: Family Health International is running the project. FHI has six major partners and the Solidarity Centre is one of them. Last year the ITF signed a partnership agreement and our Africa project coordinator and adviser works in close cooperation with them.

* Seafarers’ Health Information Programme (SHIP): The ITF Seafarers’ Trust invested US$ 894,000 for this three-year health promotion campaign. The International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare (ICSW) is running it. SHIP covers seven topics including AIDS, physical fitness, cardiovascular disease, food, obesity and malaria. Information is disseminated to seafarers on board ships and ashore through videos and DVD’s, comic books, posters and stickers. The programme uses the resources of the global network of seafarers’ centres and welfare agencies to get its health messages across.  It has its own website: http://www.seafarershealth.org


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