Why is an ITF coordinator swimming the English Channel?


ITF inspectors are sometimes known to be a bit different. We work in a unique trade-union environment and often face incredible challenges in solving problems.

Many of our regular readers and international activists will know Dean Summers, who hails from the Maritime Union of Australia and is the ITF National Coordinator for Australia. Dean is one of the reasons we are known to be a bit different — and why we are known for getting things done.

About five years ago, Dean marched clear across Spain because he wanted to go for a wander in someone else’s outback. As his latest dream-big-or-go-home trek, he has taken on the massive challenge of swimming across the English Channel. His swim will mark the 140th anniversary of the first successful channel swim by Matthew Webb, who was also a mariner. (Dean has yet to announce whether he will be following Webb’s lead and making the crossing coated with porpoise oil.)

Brothers and sisters in Canadian maritime unions know Dean, a fourth generation seafarer, as a tireless supporter of our struggles here in Canada (much as we are always there when the bell rings in Australia). Right now, Canada and Oz both have anti-worker governments in power, extreme neo-conservatives tearing apart of respective social fabric leaving workers vulnerable. It will come as no surprise to those who know him that with those vulnerable workers in mind, Dean is not swimming for simple personal achievement. While he is crossing the channel, with each stroke he will be raising money for Hunterlink Recovery Services, an employee-assistance program. The money he raises will be used to provide additional services to maritime workers who might otherwise fall through the cracks of a society now led by an uncaring government.

At the ITF Canada, we are proud to call Dean an ally and a brother — or comrade, as they say Down Under. Many of us have already made a donation, and we challenge all of our readers to click on the link below to support Dean’s efforts and power him from Dover, England to wherever he may wash ashore in France.

When he hits land, I know maritime workers will be there to greet him with a warm blanket and a nice red from the Bordeaux.

Fair tides all the way, Dean. We are with you.

Dean has set up a website for his swim where you can keep up to date with his training, read about the cause and make a donation.



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