The IUF was shocked to learn of the passing of Neil Kearney, the General Secretary of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF). Neil suffered a massive heart attack in his sleep on November 19 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The IUF greatly respected Neil as a tireless and courageous fighter against the exploitation of those working under sweatshop practices around the world. He particularly championed the fight against child labour and always maintained and expressed his outrage against the appalling working conditions he witnessed particularly throughout the developing world.
In a note of condolence and solidarity to the ITGLWF IUF general secretary Ron Oswald said, “Like so many we were over the years immensely proud to have been associated with Neil and to have worked with a friend and comrade who displayed such an unswerving sense of principle and dedication not only to his members but also to our members and all those exploited in a global economy which as he so often said so many are not seeing any benefits from.”
Kearney, 59, became the General Secretary of ITGLWF in 1988. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he started his trade union career with the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers in 1972. In 1998, he received the “IL Natale, La Notta della Vita” International Award for his work on the elimination of child labour worldwide. A year later, he received the “Work and Environment Award” of the Associaiazione Ambiente e Lavoro for his work to improve working conditions in the developing world.
He is survived by his wife, Jutta, and two daughters, Nicole and Caroline. The funeral service and reception will be held at St. Anthony’s Church, Oudstrijderslaan 23-25, 1950 1950 Kraainem, Belgium on Friday 27 November 2009 at 10:00 hours
Instead of flowers, Neil’s famiy and the IGLWF would appreciate that donations be sent to the cause Neil has been dedicated to with the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation, fighting for decent work for every worker in the industry across the world. Donations can be sent to: “Neil Kearney Memorial Fund”, A/C number 210-0653945-23, Fortis Banque, IBAN – BE92 2100 6539 4523, BIC/SWIFT GEBABEBB, Rue Joseph Stevens 2, B – 1000.