Let laborers share the fruits of economic growth

By Wu Jiao and Zheng Lifei (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-09 07:10

The governments, trade unions and employers should protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers and ensure that they get their share of economic and social benefits.

This is the agreement reached at the 2008 International Forum on Economic Globalization and Trade Unions that ended in Beijing Tuesday.

Unions have to ensure that economic growth benefits all workers, and helps them meet their basic needs such as food, housing, health and education, the forum said. The International Labor Organization should render more support to unions, especially in the developing countries, and help them with more funds, talents and expertise.

More than 60 leaders of 37 trade unions from 25 countries participated in the two-day forum, co-sponsored by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). It was the fourth forum held by the two federations.

"Decent work" was the most discussed subject at the forum. "In pursuit of sustainable social and economic development, trade unions should strive to ensure that workers' legitimate rights are protected and that they get decent work," ACFTU executive vice-chairwoman Sun Chunlan said.

Chinese trade unions have been trying to set up systems to coordinate with workers and protect their rights and interests, settle labor disputes and create channels for workers to let their voices be heard, ACFTU chairman Wang Zhaoguo said.

The Law on Employment Promotion and the Labor Contract Law implemented by the government, too, is aimed at protecting workers' rights.

"Every year there are positive changes happening in China, such as the recent enforcement of the labor law," WFTU general secretary George Mavrikos said, referring to the Labor Contract Law that came into effect from January 1.

The pursuit of decent work remains an arduous task because of economic inequality, poverty and accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, Mavrikos said. Two percent of the world's population owns 60 percent of its wealth, while 800 million people face starvation and 200 million children are forced to live in abject poverty.

Delegates stressed the diverse ways unions use to pursue their goals, too. Wang, for example, said that since unions across the world are organized differently, international bodies should respect a country's operation model and development policy.

Mavrikos added that, "since problems facing workers across the world are common, we should globalize our efforts and keep struggling."

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