From the Experts

The International Transport Workers’ Federation signed an important agreement on the future of work in the transport sector

The 44th Congress

of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) took place between 14 and 22 October in Singapore, the first time the ITF congress was held in Southeast Asia in its 122-year history.

The ceremony was underpinned by the signing of a ground-breaking agreement on the future of work and training for workers in the transport industry. 

The agreement, co-signed by Dave Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers’ section and member of the ITF executive board, and Steve Tan Peng Hoe, director of the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi), recognises the challenges, opportunities and threats of digitalisation and vouches to research interventions to help workers improve their skills to compete for high-value jobs.

However, not everyone agrees that the future of automation is a bright one.

It's no coincidence that this Congress is being held in Singapore as it focuses on the future of work in transport. We have shown here that by building partnerships across society and the economy we can create decent, sustainable jobs now and for the future.

Mary Liew, chairperson of the ITF Singapore national coordinating committee and general secretary of the Singapore Maritime Officers Union

Image courtesy of ITF

People make things happen. The introduction across our sectors of automation and new technology is a policy choice. We, the ITF, all our affiliates, our members, are here to build our capacity to shape that policy. And get ourselves ready for the coming months and years.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president

Image courtesy of ITF

I’m calling on all US Maritime Unions and all world-wide dockers’ unions affiliated with the International Dockers’ Council (IDC) to condemn and reject the ITF for taking this defeatist position that will spell the end of longshore jobs within 10 years.

Harold J. Daggett, international president of the International Longshoremen’s Association

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Our port workers are a resilient lot as they are constantly exposed to the latest technologies, like amphibious drones, automated quay cranes, exoskeletons for port staff, and robotic arms for related container activities. 

Ng Chee Meng, secretary general of the National Trades Union Congress

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This is a unique agreement for the ITF because transport workers are facing unique challenges as the industry changes beyond all recognition. We must ensure that the future of work in transport is good jobs with good conditions for all.

Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary

Image courtesy of ITF