James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) will tell representatives of the world’s road and rail workforce gathered in Brussels, Belgium, today that “Trade can’t be free if it’s not fair”.
Mr Hoffa will address 171 representatives and leaders from 84 trade unions representing road and rail workers in 42 countries worldwide, who are meeting in the Belgian capital at a conference organised by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation). The week-long event is addressing issues and strategies on topics including: trade deals such as CETA and TISA, and how they undermine workers’ protections; the threat of railway privatisation; driver only operation; solidarity with Korean workers; the launch of an Our Public Transport campaign; the future of work; automation and the digital economy; safe rates and making multinationals accountable. (For full details please see https://goo.gl/WQ0Nsz).
Journalists are invited to attend the meeting, which will be held at The International Auditorium, International Trade Union House, Boulevard du Roi Albert II, No. 5 / 2, B-1210 Brussels (www.theinternationalauditorium.be/en/contact.php) from 17:30 to 19:00. Please present yourself at the registration desk.
Mr Hoffa will state: “Americans don’t want so-called ‘free’ trade deals. The threat is now over from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but the agenda that it promoted survives in TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement). A recent poll, conducted for Politico and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, found that a majority of Democrats and Republicans believe that trade deals have cost the US more jobs than they have created. The Teamsters, other unions and fair trade allies have been sounding the alarm about the devastation such trade deals bring for decades.
“TPP was more than 5,000 pages of inexplicable text benefitting big business at the expense of everyday Americans who would have suffered economically. Where TTP led the way it appears that TiSA aims to follow. We are banding together to expose the hidden agenda of these undemocratic and secretive deals, made in closed rooms in grand halls and offices miles away from the realities faced by men and women on the street and in the workplace.”
Mr Hoffa will conclude: “Our priorities remain safe workplaces, where workers’ rights are respected, operating in societies with quality health care, union rights, and free from tax havens and currency manipulation.”
Other panellists at the discussion on trade deals will include Tanja Buzek, of Germany’s ver.di trade union, and Yorgos Aliantzis, trade advisor at the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation). It will be chaired by Tony Sheldon, chair of the ITF road transport section and national secretary of Australia’s TWU (Transport Workers Union), who will state: “The ITF has been one of the leaders in the fight against the secrecy and unaccountability that is a fundamental part of deals such as TiSA. We have repeatedly highlighted how that deal attacks marine cabotage, which preserves vital maritime skills and national seafaring workforces, and undermines the jobs and futures of aviation and port workers.” (See https://goo.gl/1rmyKX) .
ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “We welcome James Hoffa’s insights and presence at this international gathering, which is not just sounding the alarm about the threat these secretive and shady deals – which put profits first and jobs, safety and people last – pose to global standards and safety oversight, but is building the knowledge and alliances needed to develop realistic, worker-centred alternatives to them.”
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