Education International
Education International

EI mourns Neil Kearney, hero in the fight against child labour

published 19 November 2009 updated 19 November 2009

Education International joins with brothers and sisters in the labour movement around the world in grieving the passing of respected international trade union leader Neil Kearney, who died suddenly on 18 November in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Born in 1950, Neil Kearney left his native Ireland as a young man and ultimately travelled to more than 140 countries worldwide in his tireless efforts to improve the lives and working conditions of some of the most exploited workers in the world – the men, women and children labouring in the textile and garment sector. After 16 years as a national trade union official in the UK, Neil Kearney was elected General Secretary of the International Textile, Leather, Garment and Footwear Workers’ Federation in 1988, a post he has held ever since.

“It was an untimely end to a life that was passionately devoted to workers’ rights and the cause of democratic and independent trade unionism,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

“Neil gave more than could possibly be expected from a devoted trade union activist. He set an example for many of us in that he helped make a real difference in the lives of so many textile workers and their families around the world.”

On behalf of the affiliates, activists and staff of Education International, van Leeuwen expressed deepest condolences to Neil’s family, friends and colleagues around the world.