Unifor is working with the International Transportation Federation to take its ground-breaking Women’s Advocate Program worldwide.
“We are looking forward to learning from each other,” said Unifor Women’s Director Lisa Kelly.
As part of the project, Jodi Evans from ITF Women and Sheela Naikwade, divisional secretary and executive board member of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Union in India, attended Unifor’s recent Women’s Advocate course in Port Elgin. Naikwade told the group that in an unprecedented move, women in her union were on the front lines of blocking a bus depot in an effort to prevent privatization of public transit. The action was part of a national road transportation strike that sprung up while she was in Port Elgin.
“Women told me that before the union, I was just a woman conductor,” Naikwade said. “Now, because of Sheela’s support, there’s improvement and hope.”
Naikwade was elected by an overwhelmingly male membership. Participants in Port Elgin were inspired by the efforts of women in her union and sent messages of solidarity to the strikers. Collaboration will continue between Unifor and the ITF on the Women’s Advocate program and women’s equality work.