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New ITF President Paddy Crumlin's Speech and Former President Randall Howard's Address

Randall Howard, ITF President address to the 42nd Congress of the ITF in Mexico City, Mexico on 5 August 2010.

Viva ITF, Viva Africa, Viva Arab World, Viva Latin America, Viva Asia Pacific, Viva North America, Viva Europe



  • Snr Marcelo Ebrard Causabon, The Governor of Mexico City, Affiliates from the Latin American region as our official hosts led by brother Benito Bahena.
  • Members of the Executive Board
  • Vice Presidents, General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary
  • All leaders of ITF affiliates, Former ITF Presidents, Fraternal organisations and partners
  • Comrades, Sisters, Brothers, Delegates, Friends and Guests
1.    At the conclusion of the June 2010 Executive Board I stated that South Africa and Mexico will play each other during the opening of first ever hosted Africa and South Africa FIFA World Cup and that the ITF should not be divided if my country beats Mexico. I wish to congratulate Mexico for staging a good come back to force a draw against South Africa but also for advancing to the quarter final stage in the tournament. Mexican football has proven itself to be very strong and capable of doing better in future world cups!

2.    Whilst my country did not make it through to the second round and all South Africans were very disappointed our victory resides in successfully hosting and organising of the World Cup. Whilst we as Africans are confident of our ability to organise such events regrettably we have to continually prove our capacity to the doom sayers in many parts of the developed world. I believe those voices have now been silenced and I hope many of you have your vuvuzelas or intend to get them as you will remember it was blown during the 2006 Durban Congress to promote the 2010 world cup!


3.  I am the first African President and second from a developing country in the 114 year history of the ITF to open a Congress and I should not be the last as I step down at the end. Opening a Congress in Latin America demonstrates how truly global we are and must continue to become a real reflection of the demographics and challenges of all ITF regions.

4.  It is great honour to address this 42nd Congress of the ITF to reflect on the organisation’s progress and my presidency over the last four years.

5.  When I took office in August 2006 I set out four goals and called for it to be integrated into the Organising Globally campaign;

  • Intensify the struggle against HIV/AIDS
  • Develop women to take up leadership positions in their own right
  • Invest into trade union education to build capacity among union leaders
  • Build strong, bigger, democratic, accountable and well functioning trade unions  particularly in Africa   

6. The above goals resonated with common challenges faced in Africa but also in many developing countries. In this regard Africa has grown in stature within the ITF family and hosted an Executive Board in Tunis which adopted the Tunis Declaration, first regional conference in Senegal and laid a sound platform for consolidating the North Africa sub region into the African region.

7. With regard to the above mentioned goals I am pleased to state that the African region has taken its organisational and political tasks very seriously focussing on less talking and more implementing through action orientated programmes to respond to the challenges. In this regard I wish to congratulate JK, sub regional coordinators, staff and leaders of affiliates in sections for their tireless efforts to position the region as follows;

  • Encourage mergers to build bigger and stronger unions
  • Develop educated trade union leaders
  • Empower women and the youth to be active and fearless trade unionists
  • Develop concrete programmes to give expression to the Organising Globally campaign
8.  Keep up the sterling organisational work Africa and you shall be rewarded with a highly mobilised base ready to rise up to any challenge facing transport workers!

9.  In this regard our African and global campaign of real and practical solidarity with the workers and peoples of Zimbabwe to stop oppression and repression by the Mugabe Regime by returning the Chinese vessel with lethal weapons on board must always as a reminder that one of fundamental tasks as a GUF is to act decisively against repressive regimes and employers anywhere in the world that attempts to undermine and violate internationally recognised universal human and trade union rights.


10.  The presence of the ITF holding its highest decision making meeting here must be viewed as concrete expression of solidarity as this is the most dangerous continent in which to be a trade unionist. It must also be understood as a clear message to all governments and employers that the ITF will not tolerate the blatant violation of human and trade union rights. Sadly, comrade Pedro Zamora was brutally gunned down in 2007 by state apparatus supported by capitalists for leading his members against port privatisation. Murders of trade unionists in Columbia are common place. In Costa Rica ITF dockers faces a government takeover.  In Mexico, many yellow unions sign “protection agreements” intended to collude with the employer but not to protect the workers.



Key Campaigns and Milestones 


13.  The ITF continued to pursue the important campaign which is also support by the ITUC to ensure the release of Brother Osanloo and many other trade unionists in Iran. We remain hopeful that the Iranian government will accede to the call to release all of them as they committed no crime. Even if Osanloo may be released the global campaign should not end until they are all released from detention and conduct their trade union work without fear or favour.


14.  The ITF has and must continue to play a strategic role in facilitating cooperation based on the Cyprus agreement intended to promote trade union cooperation, ending frustrations at the blockades for Palestine truck drivers and the establishment of a hot line to facilitate interventions.

15.  We will continue to condemn violence from either side whilst recognising its disproportionate nature. We will continue to support the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to self determination in the context of a two state solution.

16.  We should welcome the UN led investigation supported by the Israeli government but condemn in the strongest terms the unnecessary and deadly attack on the Gaza Flotilla   killing nine Turkish activists engaged in a humanitarian mission aboard a vessel.

17.  We must however reiterate that both our Israeli and Palestine affiliates are equals in the ITF family and our credibility as a global trade union body to facilitate ongoing trade union cooperation between them remains paramount. Similarly, affiliates of the ITF that take different views with regard to this question is recognised but should not detract from keeping our family united to pursue the common issues that affect transport workers.


18.  On behalf of the ITF Executive Board it is my pleasure to inform Congress that the   process of integrating with FIOST has been achieved. I wish to express my sincere thanks to the ITF Executive Board and FIOST World Board for remaining committed to the cause and understanding the strategic importance of giving expression to one of the noble ideals of the trade union movement viz trade union unity which will give us the capacity to do more for transport workers in a more effective way.       

19.  I wish to extend a special and warm welcome to all the former unions of FIOST and most former WCL transport unions into the ITF.

20.  You are welcome as equal members of the ITF family!  


21.  Since the Delhi and Vancouver Congress “Mobilising Solidarity” become the platform “Organising Globally” intended to localise global actions through projects and networks.

22.  Since the 2006 Durban Congress “Organising Globally” the emphasis has been developed an action orientated programmes through a new integrated way of working in which resources are more efficiently and optimally utilised given limited finances.

23.  The Review conducted under the auspices of the Executive Board resulted in the successful establishment of the Strategic Coordinating Team commonly known as the SCT to give concrete expression to managing OG projects in an integrated manner with targets set and real deliverables identified. That detail will be reflected in the reports to be presented to Congress to assess progress made or lack thereof and what need to be done.

24.  We have to note that the new positions created in the SCT and how they were filled did, in certain instances, result in serious tensions and perceptions in the London office and in the regions which had a negative effect on staff morale and ultimately their output.

25.  The newly elected President, Vice Presidents and the General Secretary must ensure that similar future processes are better managed to avoid what we had experienced.

26.  Whilst steady progress is being made to connect the dots in regional industrial organising and the organising of the youth under the able and passionate leadership of Ingo Marowsky we have a lot more to do in the next four years. However, we must claim a real victory given the signing of collective agreements in Mumbai between All Cargo and TDWU as a result of the struggles engaged in and supported through solidarity by the Maersk Network.

27.  I have no doubt that Congress will reaffirm its commitment to “Organisng Globally” and continue to charge the Executive Board with ensuring integration, efficiency in the use of financial resources and concrete deliverables based on set targets and timeframes coordinated by the SCT.

28.  The first draft Regional Review was presented to the Executive Board and we must proceed to complete it so that we concentrate on building regions and define their  role more clearly with the adequate levels of funding and staffing required to provide support to affiliates and sections.

29.  In the context of the impact of the global recession resulting in the closure of companies and lay offs of millions of workers across the world caused by the lack of proper regulation and the greed of global corporate companies including banks. This has resulted in a reduction in union membership and by extension a reduction in income which means there is fewer resources available but yet the demands to defend trade union rights and solidarity are growing. So we have to go on the offensive to recruit and mobilise new members in a targeted manner particularly women and young workers.    


30.  We have seen a very historic development with the election of Sharan Burrow as the women General Secretary of the ITUC. On behalf of Congress I wish to extend our heart felt congratulations to comrade Burrow on her election, wish her well in her new post and reassure her of the ITF’s unwavering and critical support in providing leadership in a very complex global political and economic environment.

31.  Whilst more women are taking up leadership positions in affiliates, sections and regions in the ITF, we must take heart from this historic development and prepare to take leadership at the highest level as I stated in 2006 in your own right. This statement is not meant to patronise it is meant to encourage and say you are leaders too you can do it! Women being elected should become the norm rather the exception!

32.  More importantly the strategic objective which be improved upon must be to integrate the issues affecting women into the affiliates’, sections and regional programmes which is the direct responsibility of the SCT.

33.  The Women’s Conference will take place on 9 August which is International Women’s Day. Let us celebrate the advances we have made but also recognise that we must re double our efforts to do more as the barriers still exist in many affiliates, sections and regions to ensure effective participation of women.


34.  Since the 2006 Durban Congress good progress has been made with the establishment of a Steering Committee, interaction with Executive Board and regular reports resulting in a constitutional amendment to facilitate the participation of young transport workers on the Executive Board.

35.  You are the foot soldiers, activists and leaders of the ITF who must make a broader political and social contribution for a better world as the capitalist system will not resolve the ills of hunger, poverty, unemployment and under development! We need your creativity, passion and drive to energise the organisation at all levels without fear or favour.

36.  Let your voices be heard and provide leadership through the resolutions emerging from your conference so that Congress directs a redoubling of efforts to organise young transport workers but also respond to their needs and ideas.

37.  Use this opportunity to network, engage, learn and get to know each other and other older delegates like myself so we go forward together.

38.  Similarly, the SCT must ensure the integration of issues affecting young workers into affiliates, sections and regional programmes.


39.  We have a responsibility as progressive organised transport workers under the banner of the ITF to contribute to saving the planet and ensuring a sustainable world for future generations. Our role specifically is to ensure sustainable transport industries through specific policy interventions. The convening of the Conference on Climate Change is intended to facilitate debate on this matter through a motion to be tabled at Congress. We cannot run away from this issue and must confront it so that we adopt a clear policy that will guide our work in this area going forward. We cannot leave this matter only to the UN, G8, G20 and NGO’s to decide, we must build on the platform laid at Copenhagen however limited but also have a position so that they know where we stand and we must build alliances on shared positions.

40.  I am confident that Congress will find common mind fully understanding the serious threats that climate changes poses to humanity and adopt policies to equally respond whilst ensuring that our obligations to our members are respected.


41.  The defending of public services and rolling back climate change are directly related to secure clean air and environmentally friendly modes of transport in which collective transport modes takes precedence over individual modes in addition to using air transport which minimises fuel consumption among others. This will have an impact on the kinds of jobs created and workers being retrained or redeployed.

42.   We must continue our cooperation with the PSI and other GUFs to campaign for quality public services to be launched in October 2010.

43.  Congress must therefore emerge with a clear resolution that calls for stricter regulation of the global financial markets and its institutions to stop greed and exorbitant executive salaries. This crisis has vindicated those who have consistently argued that the free market left to its own device will devour itself. We have the witnessed the bastion of the so called free world that the US government had to bail out corporations and banks to avoid the system from collapsing. In developing and poor countries we require a caring and interventionist state is central to the social and economic challenges supported by the private sector ie state led development. That is why the campaign by governments’ from the South and the developing world to transform global financial and trade institutions to ensure a developmental agenda must be intensified if the MDGs are to be met in the context of halving poverty among others.


44.  The ITF enjoys good fraternal relations with other GUFs and we must continue to pursue common strategic objectives through campaigns as is the case with UNI and ICEM in the main. This shared cooperation is crucial if the light of shrinking resources and demands for greater solidarity it will be important that we avoid duplication of efforts.  


45.  Whilst it cannot be the role of the Presidency to micro manage the Secretariat equally  it cannot be that the role of Presidency remains ceremonial and confined to presiding over constitutional meetings only. The President and Vice Presidents must play a more political role in building and profiling the organisation and lead certain campaigns in conjunction with the General Secretary.

46.  Congress must direct the Executive Board to examine proposals intended to enhance the role of the President and Vice Presidents in playing a more active organisational role and greater shared responsibilities.

47.  Another important matter I wish to bring to the attention of Congress for consideration during the inter Congress period is the situation we experienced when the General Secretary took ill consequently there was a leadership vacuum which created indecision in daily management operations. This in my opinion is a political and operational gap that must be closed in the context of a succession plan to create an elected office for a Deputy General Secretary to develop depth and experience at that level. 

48.  The above issues in my view should include a review of the current ITF constitution in preparation for the 43rd  Congress in 2014 in the context of moving away from cold war epoch.

49.  During my term I attempted to characterise the Presidency as politically and strategically active in managing the working relationship with the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary.

  • Met with the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary to define our working relationship based on consultation strategic issues
  • Met with the staff in London and outlined my expectations
  • Met individual departments and sections to assess their understanding of their roles
  • Intervened where staff morale was affected to ensure delivery of work
50. Proposed that a meeting of all staff and officials take place once during the inter Congress period to understand the vision, objectives, policies and resolutions of the ITF but also to share experiences with a view to building the organisation in the context of the Organising Globally campaign and achieving an integrated and efficient way of working.  

51. I am hopeful that newly elected President and Vice Presidents will build on the platform I have set with the full support of the Executive Board.

52. In conclusion I wish to thank my Vice Presidents’, Executive Board, General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary, staff, officials and interpreters for the opportunity to have worked with you in leading the transport workers all over the world.

53.  Most importantly I would like to express my appreciation to the real owners of the ITF, the affiliates and their members for the confidence shown in me in 2006 and the privilege of being chosen to serve.

54.  The ITF is your organisation, your global weapon to defend and advance the interests of transport workers against oppression and exploitation, therefore you are the ones who must direct and shape it using this Congress to adopt policies, motions and work programmes that effectively respond to the problems facing workers.

55.  Transport workers are very powerful given their strategic location in the economy. If well utilised can bring about real change in the working conditions of workers but also contribute to building a better world based on a progressive value system of solidarity, social justice and equality where poverty, disease, unemployment and under development is something of the past perpetuated by capitalism as the free market system has proved itself incapable of responding to the challenges facing the millions of the poor and destitute in the world.

56. Finally, as I hand over the baton to the new president you are to elect I wish to make the following observations as part of my responsibility in managing Congress;

  • My legacy to be taken forward i.e the secretariat working in a consultative manner with the presidency in a collective and accountable manner 
  • Executive Board in providing leadership have adopted a procedure to manage an election contest to determine a new president which must be respected by all of us
  • Congress must still maintain a focus on real policy and organisational debates to provide direction and build the organisation
  • The president must enjoy the support of the majority of affiliates and regions
  • I will be engaging with leaders of affiliates and regional groups to ensure that Congress is not marred by unnecessary tension and petty personal issues
  • Emerge more united than before as an election contest should not result in division but instead enhance democracy inside the family
  • That said if it is clear that one candidate enjoys the support of all regions I am hopeful that the maturity will exist for consensus to be reached.
Thank you!