The International Transport Workers’ Federation is a worldwide organization indeed. The ITF unites 708 transport workers’ unions representing about five million workers in 154 countries.
The ITF was established in 1896 in London by the leaders of European seafarers’ and dockers’ unions as a result of necessity to cooperate on a global level and to protect the rights of their members. The ITF represents the interests of workers of the following industries: shipping, port, railway, cargo and passenger transport, inland waters, fishing, tourism and civil aviation.
The aims of the ITF are:
- to promote respect for trade union and human rights worldwide
- to work for peace based on social justice and economic progress
- to help its affiliated unions defend the interests of their members
- to provide research and information services to its affiliates
- to provide general assistance to transport workers in difficulty
Three key headings of the ITF activity are the following:
- practical solidarity
A major function of the ITF is informing and advising unions about developments in the transport industry in other countries or regions of the world. The ITF organizes international solidarity when transport unions in one country are in conflict with employers or government and need direct help from unions in other countries. The ITF's worldwide campaign in the maritime industry against the use by ship owners of Flags of Convenience (FOCs) to escape from national laws and national unions is a good example of solidarity.
The ITF represents the interests of transport workers' unions in bodies which take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions or safety in the transport industry, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).