ITF general secretary Steve Cotton is among representatives from international organisations addressing the five-yearly event in Maryland, USA which welcomes guests from across the maritime industry.
Mr Cotton said: “The SIU is a union truly committed to its members and to the maritime world. You know the importance of the industry to local economies and communities and you work tirelessly for the men and women who make it work.
“You understand the ever-greater need, in an ever increasingly interconnected world, of working internationally, with like-minded unions.”
United states secretary of transportation Elaine Chao took to the stage to praise SIU for their ongoing extensive programme of training for seafarers and to reaffirm the US government’s commitment to the Jones Act which regulates maritime commerce in US waters and between US ports.
US secretary of transportation Elaine Chao (l) with Seafarers' International Union of Canada secretary-treasurer and ITF women's committee representative Catina Sicoli (r).
Secretary treasurer of the SIU and ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel said: “The SIU training programme recognises the need to nurture maritime knowledge and ensure the retention of skilled workers and decent jobs for the future of the industry. Our focus is on preparing men and women for successful careers as seafarers, making sure they are ready to be safe, efficient and productive as they become the lifeblood of a sector that is so crucial to the day to day lives of ordinary people.”
Jim Given, president of SIU Canada and chair of the ITF cabotage taskforce said: “Cabotage is in place in some form or another in 47 countries and it’s something that we at the SIU in Canada and the US are fighting tooth and nail to protect.
“Where there are international treaties like CETA that threaten to undermine the benefits of maritime cabotage by liberalising the shipping industry we will continue to mobilise the full power of the international trade union movement to block them.”