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Nordic country trade unions in dialogue with ACFTU of China

Helsinki (23.02.2011 - Juhani Artto) In mid' February representatives of the largest union confederations* of the five Nordic countries and the official Chinese union organization ACFTU held a two-day seminar in Helsinki. Under discussion were major global issues, such as the economic crisis, unemployment, corporate social responsibility and collective bargaining. Also climate change, migration and international cooperation of the trade union movement were on the agenda.

"The world has changed and mutual dependence has grown. China now plays a central role in the global economy and this is something that the Nordic countries must also recognise", Lauri Lyly, the President of the host organization SAK stated in his opening speech.

Olli Koski, SAK’s chief economist, underlined the crucial fact that the current economic crisis has hastened and accelerated the shift of economic focus towards the fast-growing developing economies. Koski went on to say that this change has also had an important and added psychological dimension. In short, the western model is no longer regarded as the only option.

"The ideological monopoly of the western model has broken down", Koski maintains. He hopes the trade union movement will endeavour to act as a constructive force in the reshaping of the new economic model. "The goal has to be a more just and more balanced system that is able to distribute wealth in a more equal manner."

Li Hanquan, representing the ACFTU, shared these views.

"Let's turn globalization towards the direction of balanced development, mutual gains and win-win results, promote sustainable social and economic development, and fight for the working people's equal share in the world economic development", Li outlined.

The Chinese participants spoke repeatedly on the need of decent work and on the need to protect employees in precarious positions.

The seminar between the Chinese and the Nordic country confederations was the third in a row. The two previous meetings were held in December 2006 and March 2009 in Beijing.

The Nordic unions firmly believe that dialogue with the Chinese union organization is preferable to efforts to isolate it, as was done in the past. "SAK has good bilateral relations with the ACFTU", Marjaana Valkonen, the Director for International Affairs of the SAK says.

*LOs from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, ASI from Iceland and SAK from Finland