ITF and ETF held a Union Solidarity Fund session in Ukraine

Initiated by Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine, the meeting among representatives of Great Britain, France, Poland and Turkey, as well as Ukrainian Free Trade Union of Locomotive Engineers and Trade Union of Railwaymen and Transport Constructors of Ukraine took place in Ukraine.

International partners are the voice of truth abroad. The world should not forget that the war has been continuing for almost a year, with Russian missiles flying into Ukrainian homes every day and shelling not stopping for a minute... And although the war has become an everyday occurrence for Ukrainians, the consequences of the war should be known around the world. Our international partners are people who continue to inform others about the situation in our country. Their help and support mean a lot to each of us.

To support Ukrainian member organizations, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) jointly established a Solidarity Fund in 2022. Trade unions globally contribute to the Fund to support Ukrainian colleagues – workers of critical transport infrastructure: seafarers, port and railway workers.

Oleg Grygoriuk, the Chairman of the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine, was appointed the Chairman of the Union Solidarity Fund’s Advisory Board.

On January 18-20, a session of the Union Solidarity Fund Advisory Board was held in Ukraine to discuss the assistance already implemented, as well as proposals for future projects for 2023. Our international partners from the ITF, ETF, UK, France, Sweden, Poland, and Turkey took part in the gathering. The Ukrainian party was represented by the MTWTU, Ukrainian Free Trade Union of Locomotive Engineers, Trade Union of Railwaymen and Transport Constructors of Ukraine, Welfare Fund of Maritime Transport“MORTRANS”, as well as MTWTU member seafarers and dockers.

Oleg Grygoriuk, Chairman, Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine: “From the early days of the war, the MTWTU adjusted its work to needs of the present, thereby finding new ways to help its members around the world. It is not just verbal support, but real work that we have been doing throughout the year. We thank our international friends for supporting us in such a difficult time and for not leaving us in the lurch. International partnership is a reliable rear for our seafarers, port workers and all Ukrainians. We also rely on your continued support, because as soon as the war ends, there will be even more work to do. We will have to rebuild our state so that young people have a decent future in Ukraine. We are confident that with our joint efforts we will be able to overcome all difficulties.”

Recall that the first batch of humanitarian aid from the Union Solidarity Fund was received by the MTWTU in May. It included generators, tourniquets, propane stoves, solar panels, etc.

The second stage of assistance was support for the seafarers’ families, active Trade Union members, who were left without work due to the inability to leave the country.

Oleg Grygoriuk, Chairman, Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine: “The MTWTU received 17 tons of essential goods for them. The Trade Union employees assembled three types of sets with a total number of 4,500 boxes, which contained food, hygiene products, and stationery for the seafarers’ children. 1,500 seafarers’ families throughout Ukraine received humanitarian aid sets.”

Help for Ukraine does not end there but will continue this year. In the coming days, we expect the delivery of generators and portable chargers, which will be used for the benefit of the MTWTU members at the local trade union organizations. There are also plans for the allocation of humanitarian kits with food and hygiene products for port workers and families of seafarers that are stranded in Ukraine.

Jacqueline Smith, Maritime Coordinator, ITF: “So far, the Solidarity Fund has been able to distribute the particular amount of items and goods, which we are very proud of, even though, of course, it is this drop in the sea of what is needed in Ukraine. But we are also looking to discuss plans that are needed to move forward. Because, of course, at some point, the war will stop, and we will again return to peaceful times. And then we need to talk about support and rebuilding. As trade union organizations, we don’t have the capacity for the massive infrastructure that’s going to be needed, but we are able to provide support in other ways. Which ones – we will have it discussed. Thank you very much, brothers and sisters, for inviting us, for allowing us to come and be the support that we want to be as trade unions.”

Nikolaos Koletsis, Policy Officer for Maritime Transport, ETF: “It is precious for me to be together with you. It is an opportunity to express our support that we are sending to you from the very beginning. I don't want to repeat what we have done until now but just to tell you that we continue to support you and to do our best in order to assist you.”

Neven Melvan, Secretary General, Seafarers’ Union of Croatia: “I feel the need to be here with you and support the Ukrainian nation at such moments of history. I believe in tomorrow, but with that, I still need to analyze everything I heard today. And I need to find some way of mindset, maybe come up with some ingenious and unexpected ideas. How can we avert something so evil and ugly that is approaching families? It is too big. I personally did not expect you to be as successful and strong in defending your country. You have no other country to live in and it is just a matter of time, but eventually, you will remain independent.”

Anu Koljonen, General Secretary, Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation (NTF): “NTF is a federation of 40 different trade unions for transport workers in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark with the Faroe Islands. In total, we represent 340,000 members – transport workers in seven different occupational categories. It makes me extremely sad that we are here today, 2023, and now your country is facing such a devastating problem. And I am here to help establish a connection with the NTF and steer it in the right direction; I am here to help.”

Antonina Shkamerda, Director, Welfare Fund “MORTRANS”: “Thanks to our colleagues, friends from the ITF and ETF families, we received incredible financial, humanitarian and moral support from the first days of the war.More than 30 organizations helped us stay strong. I bow low to everyone for their support, trust, and mercy towards our beneficiaries. Help came from everywhere: Sweden, the UK, Poland, Canada, Denmark, Norway and others. Words cannot express how much strength it gave us.”

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