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Moscow, 17 October 2002 г.

On the initiative of the United Nations, the 17th of October is annually marked as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

On this day, the people of our planet, and first of all workers and their trade unions, appraise their living standards as they summarise the results of the outgoing year. It is to be regretted that in most countries huge sections of the population are still vegetating on less than one US dollar a day, which is a universally recognised indicator of abject poverty. Even in the wealthiest countries of Western Europe and North America, quite a number of people live under the officially established poverty line.

The situation is aggravated by the widening material gap, as the handful of rich countries and well-off people possessing fortunes sufficient to feed the hungry millions, cure the hundreds of thousands of sick, and educate the illiterate masses prefer to spend that money on their own excessive consumption. All this provokes further increases in social tensions, both nationally and globally.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions is particularly concerned with the situation in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Last year, only three CIS countries could boast of real wages exceeding two US dollars a day, while the pensions, students' scholarships, unemployment benefits, and other social allowances were even less. The struggles waged by the unions to raise workers' incomes and bring up the minimum wages at least to the level of the subsistence minimum have unfortunately failed to produce tangible results and, therefore, must be carried on and intensified.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions call on all state authorities in the CIS countries to pay priority attention to the problem of eliminating poverty and raising the living standards of the broad masses, and take immediate measures for its final settlement.

The GCTU urges all trade unions in the CIS countries and their members to step up their struggles to secure decent life for their people, higher real wages and social benefits, and fairer distribution of wealth and resources in the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the world.

The world's workers and their unions must pool their efforts to put an end to the globalisation of poverty!

General Confederation of Trade Union