The ITF is holding a major new style of event in Casablanca, Morocco tomorrow that will bring together – and give a voice to – a new generation of seafarer and docker grassroots activists. Called the Maritime Roundtable (MRT), it runs from 25 to 27 September.
The MRT is a groundbreaking new three day activists’ forum that will build links between dockers’ and seafarers’ unions and help shape the future of the ITF’s campaigning on flags of convenience. Alongside the over 200 activists and future union leaders from 50 countries attending there will be a host of virtual participants who can join the debates via the internet and live online reporting of the event at www.dockers-seafarers.org/event/maritime-roundtable. A new website – www.dockers-seafarers.org – has been created to support the event and build on its achievements.
Press are invited to attend the opening of the MRT from 09:00 at the Sheraton Casablanca Hotel & Towers. A press conference will be also be held at 10:30 tomorrow, Tuesday 25 September, in Room Fes 1, The Sheraton Casablanca Hotel & Towers, 100 Avenue des F.A.R, 20000 Casablanca (www.sheratoncasablanca.com). The press conference will cover the aims of the MRT and also the ITF’s plans for further support for imprisoned trade union leader Said Elhairech. The ITF will be meeting with his family and also demanding a meeting with the Moroccan government’s Justice Ministry. The press conference will also explain the further dramatic escalation of support action the worldwide organisation has ready to secure Said’s deserved release and to focus attention on everything to do with Morocco if justice is not served.
ITF maritime coordinator Steve Cotton commented: “The MRT is a new initiative that has sprung from the ongoing review of our flag of convenience campaign. As part of that review we decided, in consultation with all of the seafarers and dockers in the ITF, that it was crucial to have a look at our policy and how we implement it.
“The MRT is a vehicle for bringing together the people who don’t usually get an opportunity to come to ITF policy meetings, so that they can come up with creative ideas and explore methods of campaigning that will ensure that the FOC campaign is as valid today as it was 60 years ago.”
He continued: “We’re very optimistic that there will be really good outcomes from this meeting, which has been heavily oversubscribed. We’ll be running a workshop environment where we’ll be giving everyone the opportunity to express themselves. There’ll be no attempt to stick to formal processes. The idea is to create new ideas and new methods. What we’ll do with those ideas is bring them back to the policy bodies for seafarers, dockers and the flag of convenience campaign, and develop and implement them. The MRT is a serious initiative to try and improve the coverage of the flag of convenience and the port of convenience campaigns, and to protect and give leverage and power to workers operating in the maritime industry.”
He concluded: “Holding such a high profile event in Morocco, hot on the heels of the ITF worldwide inspectors’ seminar, is also allowing us to take the case of the unjustly imprisoned union leader Said Elhairech to the heart of the Moroccan government and judiciary. We will be using our presence to assert his innocence and prove the need for his swift release.”