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Unions urged to wage green fight
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Trade unions around the world should work together to urge businesses, governments and society as a whole to conserve resources and protect the environment to ensure sustainable development, President Hu Jintao said Monday.

"Realizing sustainable development and making conservation efforts are related to the fundamental interests of people around the world and to the immediate interests of its vast number of workers," Hu said at the opening ceremony of the 2008 International Forum on Economic Globalization and Trade Unions.

"As key forces in promoting sustainable development, the world's trade unions and their members must actively engage in this great campaign that requires immediate effort and will contribute to the well-being of future generations," Hu said.

Wang Zhaoguo, chairman of All-China Federation of Trade Union (ACFTU), said the Chinese government "actively participates in building an ecological civilization" against climate change, pollution and the energy crunch.

For instance, last year it launched a national action plan against climate change, the first of its kind adopted by a developing country.

And since 2006, it has assigned detailed goals for energy conservation and the reduction of emissions.

Calling on unions to engage in environmental protection, he said developed countries should shoulder the bulk of responsibility for environmental issues and give more support to the developing world.

Developed countries should "render more financial and technical support to developing countries and enhance their capacity in developing their economies, eradicating poverty and raising their levels of ability to cope with climate change," Wang, who is also a member of the political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said.

More than 60 leaders of 37 trade unions from 25 countries are taking part in the two-day forum, jointly sponsored by the ACFTU and World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), which began Monday in Beijing.

George Mavrikos, general secretary of the WFTU, said: "The issue of climate change needs to be the center of attention for trade unions all over the world. We know the causes of the problems and we can demand the application of measures and policies to tackle today's ugly situation."

Instead of taking charge of climate change, some developed countries actually put obstacles in the way of developing countries, Mavrikos said.

AD Nagpal, secretary of India's Hind Mazdoor Sabha, said environmental sustainability begins in the workplace, with cleaner technologies, better health and safety conditions and improving the ways in which resources are used.

"This means participatory management systems at work, involving workers in the decision-making processes, investing in cleaner technologies and not outsourcing hazardous jobs to unskilled, unprotected workers or merely dumping waste into the sewers," Nagpal said in a speech to the forum.

(China Daily January 9, 2008)

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