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Speaker Biographies

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Ezrom Mabyana: Satawu President

Ezrom Mabyana: Satawu President*

Ezrom started working as a truck driver at the state railway company Spoornet in 1984. He joined the newly resuscitated Sarhwu (South African Railways and Harbour Workers’ Union) in 1986 and was immediately elected a shop steward. He was a key leader in Sarhwu’s 1987 national strike for union recognition and was elected National Treasurer in 1992, a position he held until the formation of Satawu in 2000. At its founding congress, when Sarhwu merged with the Transport and General Workers’ Union, Ezrom was elected president of Satawu. He was re-elected in 2003. In his capacity as President of Satawu, Ezrom is a member of the Central Executive Committee of Cosatu.

Randall Howard: Satawu General Secretary

Randall Howard, SATAWU*

After leaving school Randall worked for various companies before being employed by South African Container Depots (SACD) in 1986. He joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union and was elected a shop steward and then the Chairperson of the Western Cape branch. In 1988 he was dismissed from the company and became a full time organiser with TGWU. He was subsequently elected Branch Secretary, then National Deputy General Secretary and, in 1994, General Secretary. He held this position until the merger of TGWU and Sarhwu in 2000. At Satawu’s founding congress Randall was elected General Secretary and in this capacity is a member of the Central Executive Committee of Cosatu.

Guy Ryder: ICFTU General Secretary

Guy Ryder, ICFTU*

Guy began working at the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) in 1981 before moving to the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET). Later he joined the ILO, where he served as a special adviser to the ILO Director-General, Juan Somavía. In 2002 he was appointed General Secretary of the ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions).

Umraomal Purohit: ITF President

Umraomal Purohit*

Umraomal has been active in the Indian trade union movement for over five decades. He started his career in Indian Railways and became the General Secretary of the Western Railway Employees Union in 1958 at the age of 30. In 1962 he was elected as the Assistant General Secretary of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF). Purohit has also been leading the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), a trade union national centre, since 1985, and has served as AIRF President since 1980. He has been associated with the ITF for over 40 years and was elected as its President in 1998 at the ITF Congress in New Delhi, and was chosen to serve a second term in Vancouver in 2002.

David Cockroft: ITF General Secretary

David Cockroft*

David began his professional life in 1974 in the Economic Department of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC), later moving to the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer staff (APEX). In 1979 he joined the international trade union movement as Secretary for industrial salaried employees at the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET). In 1985 he came to the ITF as Research and Publications Department Secretary and was subsequently given responsibility for the Dockers’, Civil Aviation and Tourism Services' sections.  In 1991 he was appointed ITF Assistant General Secretary and, following the decision of the then General Secretary to retire, was appointed ITF Acting General Secretary in 1993.  The following year he was elected ITF General Secretary at the 37th Congress in Geneva, and was re-elected at the New Delhi and Vancouver Congresses.

Stuart Howard: ITF Assistant General Secretary

Stuart Howard*

Stuart was a trainer in shop stewards’ education programmes in North West England in the early 1980s on a project on unemployment and multinational companies. He worked as a researcher for the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) in London from 1989 before joining the ITF Civil Aviation Section in 1991. In 1994 he was made Secretary of the Section. He became ITF Assistant General Secretary in 2000.

Diana Holland: National Organiser for Women, Race & Equalities, Transport & General Workers’ Union (TGWU), Britain and Ireland

Diana Holland is the T&G's lead negotiator and campaigner for women, race & equalities. She is chair of the ITF Women's Committee and was President of the Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions from 2003 to 2005. Diana has negotiated for equal opportunities throughout industry and campaigned for pensions equality, social justice and an end to poverty. She joined the union in an unorganised sector, was elected the first shop steward, and then appointed as the first Southeast regional Women's Organiser. She is a long-standing supporter of union education.

Fred van Leeuwen: Education International General Secretary

Fred van Leeuwen (GUFs chair)*

Fred was a teacher in The Netherlands before joining the Algemene Bond van Onderwijs Personeel (ABOP) in 1973 and becoming responsible for its international affairs in the late 70s. He was elected General Secretary of the International Federation of Free Teachers' Unions (IFFTU) in 1981 and held this post until the IFFTU and the World Confederation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) formed Education International (EI) in 1993. He was reelected at the EI's Congresses in 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004.

Jeff Radebe: Minister of Transport of the Republic of South Africa

Jeff Radebe: Minister of Transport of the Republic of South Africa*

Born in 1953 Jeff studied at Zululand Univerity and took legal articles in 1976. A member of the ANC (African National Congress) in 1977 he was instructed to leave for Mozambique, where he worked at Radio Freedom, broadcasting to South Africa, before studying law at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig. He continued working for the ANC in Zambia and Lesotho before spending a year at the Lenin International School in Moscow and, in 1986, arriving in Johannesburg from Lesotho on a secret mission. He was arrested and convicted under the Terrorism Act. Jailed on Robben Island, he was active in the ANC's political department, of which he became head. Released in 1990 his first job was as Projects' Co-ordinator for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) until his election as Chairperson of Southern Natal ANC in November 1991. He was appointed Minister of Public Enterprises by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in June 1999, and is currently South African Minister of Transport.

Zwelinzima Vavi: General Secretary, Cosatu

Zwelinzima Vavi began work in 1984 and was dismissed from his job as a uranium plant clerk during a strike in 1987. He then joined the National Union of Mineworkers as an organiser, and later became Cosatu’s regional secretary for four years before being despatched to the organisation’s Johannesburg headquarters in 1992 to take up the new post of National Organising Secretary. He served as Deputy General Secretary from 1993 to 1999, before taking up his current post of General Secretary.

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Copyright © 2020 ITF
ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk