The Guardian 26 October, 2005

Global briefs

CHINA: At its recent Central Committee meeting, the Communist Party of China said the new Five Year Plan starting in 2006 will emphasise "common prosperity" in an effort to bridge the growing gap between rich and poor. The new plan will define economic growth as "Serving the people to improve life quality". Among its goals will be increasing urban job opportunities, price stability and improving housing, transportation, education, culture, health and the environment. Special attention will be given to rural areas, where medical care and welfare are extremely weak. Before 2010, all rural children will have nine years of free education, lifting a significant financial burden from their families. "Further progress will be made in democracy and rule of law and spiritual civilisation, social security and safe production, as well as building a harmonious society."

GUINEA: The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions last week called on the government of Guinea to end child labour and forced labour and let workers improve their lives through collective bargaining. The ICFTU said Guinea had made those commitments during 1996-2001 as part of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Declarations. The international labour federation said that while the country had ratified all eight core ILO Labour Conventions, over 300,000 children are economically active in agriculture, petty commerce, domestic work and small scale mining. It added that bans on forced labour are not enforced. The ICFTU said harassment of trade unionists is widespread. It also said only seven percent of girls are enrolled in secondary school, compared with 20 percent of boys, creating a gap in employment and pay between women and men.

PARAGUAY: Some 300 Paraguayan indigenous people marched to the capital, Asuncion on October 3 and set up a protest encampment to demand Congress approve reforms allowing the countryís indigenous communities to participate in decisions affecting them. The Chamber of Deputies has been debating the reforms. An indigenous councilís role in decision-making was eliminated under a separate law last year. The protestors were also seeking more money for indigenous health and education projects, and demanding the government buy 6000 hectares of land for six indigenous communities. "We are again insisting [on] restitution of lands to their legitimate owners Ö for purchases of new lands and the granting of titles in the name of the communities for land purchases carried out so far", the indigenous communities said in a statement.

CANADA: Members of the Canadian Media Guild have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement that ends a lockout affecting over 5000 Canadian Broadcasting Company employees. CBC management had locked the workers out on August 15 after the union refused to yield to CBCís demands for unlimited contracting out and use of temporary employees. Public support for the workers and the resulting pressure on CBC from Liberal Members of Parliament helped end the dispute on terms favourable to the union.

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