Special Correspondent

Bangalore: "Never before in the history of humanity has the gap between the rich and the poor been so phenomenal," said George Mavrikos, General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

Mr. Mavrikos, who is attending the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) national conference here, told presspersons that statistics on third world debt and the rate of unemployment were adequate indicators of the global crisis. The third world debt stands at $ 140 billion. Over 369 million people are unemployed in the world and the role of trade unions is crucial at this point in history, he added. "To step back is to go back to medieval times," said Mr. Mavrikos. WFTU, formed in 1945, has a membership of 145 unions from 73 countries. The next conference of WFTU, scheduled later this year, will focus on the question of working women.

"This is an important issue because women and young workers are the principal targets in the era of capitalist globalisation," said Mr. Mavrikos.