“Even in the eye of the storm, amid this invasion with a big target on their back, transport workers have kept Ukraine moving,” said ITF’s Paddy Crumlin.
In the last year railway workers have evacuated four million Ukrainians by rail, including getting over a million children to safety. Ukraine’s dockers have shipped vital grain supplies to feed the world and support Ukraine’s economy. Ukrainian seafarers, critical to the operation of global supply chains, have sent home much-needed funds to families and communities disrupted by war.
Ukraine’s ports, railway lines, and road supply routes: effectively the workplaces of transport workers, have been a consistent target of military forces.
“Transport workers have been under particular threat during this conflict,” said Crumlin. “With confirmed and unconfirmed reports of civilian transport infrastructure being targeted by military intending to shut down or seizing control of these assets,” he said.
Some docks have reopened, primarily in the south, and almost exclusively to handle grain. They do so under the protection of the United Nations’ Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia’s shaky adherence to the trilateral agreement with Ukraine and neighbour Türkiye leaves dockers and crew aboard visiting ships mindful that their workplace could be a warzone at any moment.
Unions renewed calls for everything possible to be done to end the war in Ukraine. “The world is in chaos, but it’s not because of transport workers. We have kept our end of the social contract – it’s now for national leaders need to do their job and secure lasting peace,” said ITF’s Cotton.
Cotton said: “All parties, including Russia and Ukraine, as well as across Europe and the NATO States, must do all in their power to de-escalate tensions and seek a peaceful, diplomatic end to this crisis. The UN must play its part to brokering talks. There can be no peace without dialogue.”