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New International Labor Union Launched in Vienna

Representatives from international trade unions have launched a new labor federation aimed at ensuring workers' rights are not lost in the rush towards globalization.

Organizers in Austria Wednesday said the new organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, will tackle fresh challenges to the rights of unionized workers and strengthen efforts to stamp out forced and child labor. The new union combines both the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labor, which were dissolved Tuesday.

In a statement, the group says the new trade group is adapting to remain a key player in an economic climate that is creating more losers than winners. It says the imbalances of globalization are having a devastating effect on millions of workers, citing abuse of workers' rights and increased poverty around the globe.

The general secretary of the former international trade union, Guy Ryder, says the new labor federation will solidify the trade union movement's capability at the national and international level. He says the stronger organization will be able to exert more influence on companies, governments and international financial institutions.

Willy Thys, the former head of the World Confederation of Labor, says the new union will become a counterbalancing force in a society where workers' rights are being flouted under a "race to the bottom" globalization trend.

The new union says it represents 166 million workers through 309 organizations in 156 countries and territories around the world. It brings together a wide and diverse grouping of major labor unions, including America's A.F.L.-C.I.O., France's C.G.T. union, Britain's Trades Union Congress and dozens of other labor groups from five continents.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.