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New ITF Gen Sec Stephen Cotton addresses the 2013 MTD Executive Board meeting.

New ITF Gen Sec Stephen Cotton addresses the 2013 MTD Executive Board meeting.

Stephen Cotton has taken over the duties of General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), an international association of more than 700 transportation-related unions from 150 countries. He replaced David Cockroft who retired at the end of May.

Cotton, who spoke at the MTD Executive Board meeting in February, had served as the ITF’s Maritime Coordinator until he was appointed Acting General Secretary in October. He started at the London-based ITF in 1993, working mainly in the Seafarers Section.

Cotton has overseen an expansion of the ITF’s inspectorate program whereby inspectors are positioned around the world in port cities to check on the working and living conditions of mariners.

Cockroft served the ITF for 20 years as General Secretary. He has spoken several times at MTD gatherings, including conventions.

He worked tirelessly to highlight the deficiencies of the notorious flag-of-convenience system, even going so far as to put his name in for an officer’s license in the Panamanian-flag registry. The system was so lax that he was approved as an officer for employment in the fleet, even though he was head of an organization that they despised and hadn’t shipped for years.

The MTD and many of its affiliates work directly with the ITF and have strongly supported its global campaign against runaway-flag shipping.