In a 3 day meeting of the Asia/Pacific Regional Secretariat held in the pink city, Jaipur, India, the plans for 2015-2018 were planned. Stuart Howard' ITF Assistant General Secretary also participated in this planning process. Mark Davis and Katsuji Talk from New Zealand and Tokyo respectively also attended the meeting.
Reporter nishi /delhi
The ITF women's conference closed today with almost 300 women from 80 countries pledging practical action to lead change, grow their unions to strengthen gender work and combat the challenges facing transport workers across the globe. Diana Holland, ITF Women's committee chair and Alison McGarry, ITF women transport workers' coordinator discussing the conference debates and outcomes.
Priority issues such as precarious and low paid work, quality public transport, increased industrial muscle, and facing the changing nature of the transport industry were identified, read some of ITF women's recommendations here >>
We struggled to wear men's uniform
We'll make it better for women
Alma Teresa, Alianza de Tranviarios de Mexico: "We are deeply affected by this issue in Mexico. Sexual harassment in the workplace unfortunately is high with 26% of women surveyed saying women saying they have experienced it. There's legislation that does defend those impacted and tries to reduce it but in addition to this the ITF has helped in supporting us."
Satish Kumar Singh, Centre for Health and Social Justice spoke to delegates: "Violence against women is not just a women's issue. It's about social justice and men have to take responsibility and act as a collaborative partner in this, Men of quality are not afraid of equality."
Mich-Elle Myers, MUA: "Around violence there are lots of circumstances where you might need to take time off work, to visit doctors, to seek support, and for lots of women that means losing their job. In Australia our union is providing a facility for the women workers and opening a conversation with the men, we're bringing the issue to the forefront."
Julia Bercerra, Centro de Capitanes de Ultramar y Officiales de la Marina Mercante, Argentina: "In terms of the sexual harassment, we have an internal regulation to discipline colleagues if this should happen. Especially in cases where captains are responsible for violence against women, that isn't allowed to go unpunished and there is a system in place."
Bhanuka Lasanthie, Sri Lankan seafarer: "I was physically harassed and assaulted onboard my vessel. I am the first woman seafarer from Sri Lanka, now after this incident the two other ladies who came behind me into this field had to leave. No company will accept me for a job, I want my job back, I want to become a captain, I am here to raise my voice. I want my life back."
Following her contribution, sisters at the conference gave Bhanuka a standing ovation:
Women at the conference welcomed the new ITF campaigning and education resource, the ITF Action guide on violence against women:
Download the publication available in english, arabic, french and spanish.
Arti Vyas, Air India employee: "We are standing shoulder to shoulder with the men. We don't know what's in store for us. We are facing a merger, supreme court action and we're facing it together with no divisions."
Sheela Naikwade, India: "First I organised all women workers, it's difficult because they are drivers. I want to do this work. Women workers face many issues; pregnant women conductors when they are doing their duty, late night working hours, no rest rooms. I have organised a workplace programme, organising women workers under the flag of 'My Union'. There must be a platform for women's issues, education on coordination and communication. But we don't want to work separately from the men, we want to work with them, with the main committee."
The railway cleaners of London were part of the working poor.
These workers did not enjoy sick pay nor many of the other conditions the average worker takes for granted. Instead they were subjected to high levels of sexism, racism, harassment and bullying, among other things.
The case of these workers was taken up by the RMT and this union went to work developing a Charter of demands which included: a living wage, pensions, safe and healthy conditions, free travel on rail, and uniforms to name a few.
This Charter was supported by an organizing strategy run by workers who had been
ptrained to mobilize and sign up cleaners, drivers and others employed in several rail companies who could lend support to the cleaners.
The union campaigned for the same core issues throughout the various companies. Instances of victimization of union reps were exposed and campaigned against. Any strike action included several different sections of rail at the same time.
With the help of the drivers, engineers and other staff, the Cleaners won their fight. However, challenges still exist. These include Bullying, the use of agency workers to avoid the organizing of workers and the issuing of different contracts in different areas.
RMT is determined to continue the fight and just yesterday, a proposal was made to send a message of Solidarity to RMT. Viva Railway Cleaners, Viva RMT!
Wilma Clement, Barbados Workers' Union
When the Dock Workers Union of Kenya learnt of the proposal to privatise the Mombasa Port, the women and youth there went to work to put a stop to that plan.
First they engaged in research and mapping; this led to a change in the union's constitution so that the important workers, including long haul drivers who worked in the port, could be organised. Training was conducted for workers so that they could act as Organisers.
The group identified and mobilised other affected groups such as the community, religious groups, media and other NGOs, showing them how they would be affected. They collaborated with the media to keep the issue in the public arena and to share current innformation.
Politicians were canvassed or their interest in the privatisation plan exposed to the public; this caused many of them who aspired to office to support the workers.
The determination, resourcefulness and innovativeness of the women resulted in the workers winning the battle.
Wilma Clement, Barbados Workers' Union