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“Be Strong:” International rail organizations extend solidarity, condolences following Amtrak crash in Washington State

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 21 — Three international rail worker Organizations have sent letters of solidarity, support and sympathy to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) National Division, its members and the victims of the fatal December 18 Amtrak derailment near Tacoma, Wash.

The 4,600 members of New Zealand’s Rail & Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) sent their “sincere and heartfelt feelings of sympathy and comradeship” in a letter to BLET National President Dennis Pierce dated December 21, 2017.

Wayne Butson, General Secretary of the 4,600-member RMTU, wrote: “Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the locomotive engineer and other members of your Union who were involved both during and following the accident and who may have been traumatised as a result. We also extend our sincere sympathy and condolence to the families of those who have been killed or injured in the train derailment. In NZ there is a saying, ‘Kia Kaha,’ which is Maori and when translated means ‘be strong.’ I close in wishing all of the many victims of this incident a strident Kia Kaha.”

Also on December 21, the BLET received a similar letter from Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the London-based International Transport Workers’ Foundation (ITF). “This shocking human tragedy reiterates that we can never relax on accident prevention,” Brother Cotton wrote. “We stand with you in your efforts to study this accident from the viewpoint of locomotive engineers and trainmen, to determine how the accident occurred, and to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future by calling for preventative measures to be implemented. Please offer our sincere sympathy and condolences to the victims and families affected by this tragedy at this most difficult time.”

The third letter comes from the Paris-based Federation CGT Des Cheminots (CGT Federation of Railwaymen). Laurent Brun, General Secretary, and David Gobe, ETF Railway Section, extended their sorrow and condolences to the victims and their families, and also shared their solidarity with BLET and its members. “This tragic accident unfortunately is not rare,” they wrote. “We experienced 5 serious accidents in December in different countries in Europe... the lack of investment by the public authorities has a detrimental consequence on the railway men’s working conditions and rail safety.”

President Pierce thanked all three organizations for their thoughtfulness and solidarity during this tragedy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org

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